PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
April 23, 2021

Judith M. Persichilli

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Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

New Jersey Department of Health Highlights Importance of Vaccination During National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW)

Childhood Vaccines Remain a Priority During the COVID-19 Pandemic

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) highlights the importance of protecting infants and young children from vaccine-preventable diseases. A primary focus is to ensure families stay on track for their children’s well-child visits and routinely recommended vaccinations, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, NIIW will be celebrated April 24-May 1, 2021.

“With child well-visits delayed, we saw a drop in immunization rates for young children of about 9% compared to 2019,” said Commissioner Judith Persichilli  “As schools continue to re-open and warmer weather brings more opportunities for in-person, socially distanced activities, parents should make sure their children are up-to-date on all childhood recommended vaccines. Medical offices are taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and can make sure children are receiving the vaccines they need to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases. Parents are encouraged to call their healthcare provider to learn what policies and procedures are in place to maximize patient safety during an office visit.”

Protecting children through vaccination begins before birth. Pregnant people should get a dose of Tdap (pertussis) vaccine during each pregnancy between 27 and 36 weeks. This will help protect babies from whooping cough until they can receive their first whooping cough vaccine at two months. Getting a seasonal flu shot is also recommended to protect against the flu and protect the baby for several months after birth from flu-related complications.

Giving babies the recommended vaccinations by age two is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough (pertussis) and measles. Children are recommended to receive a seven-dose vaccination series by age two. According to the current data from the National Immunization Survey, New Jersey has met the 90% Healthy People target for children born in 2016-2017 by 35 months of age for 3 or more doses of polio (95.9%), 1 or more doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR, 92.7%), 3 or more doses of hepatitis B (93.7%), and 1 or more doses of varicella (91.5%).

It is important to remind communities about the need to maintain high vaccination coverage rates to prevent the resurgence of certain diseases. In May 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report showing a troubling drop in routine childhood vaccination as a result of families staying at home.

“COVID-19 has caused many disruptions in families’ lives – and in some cases, it has meant that children have missed or delayed their wellness checkups and vaccination, which are a critical part of ensuring children stay healthy,” said Commissioner Persichilli.

Ensuring access to vaccinations is an important part of maintaining the public’s health. Through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, the Department provides vaccines to partners to immunize uninsured and underinsured children according to the recommended immunization schedule. In 2020, the New Jersey VFC program provided about 1.6 million doses of vaccines to providers throughout the state. This has contributed directly to a substantial increase in childhood immunization coverage levels, making a significant contribution to the elimination of disparities in vaccination coverage among young children.

The Department encourages providers, public health professionals, and individuals to participate in NIIW by talking about the importance of childhood immunization with families and through their websites, and social media channels using the hashtag #ivax2protect.

For additional information about NIIW and vaccine-preventable diseases, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/index.html and https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/vpdp.shtml.

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter @njdeptofhealth, Facebook /njdeptofhealth, Instagram @njdeptofhealth and Snapchat @njdoh.

Last Reviewed: 4/23/2021