Calling all Champions!

The instinct to protect tiny, vulnerable infants is one of the most powerful drives a person can experience.  New parents have been known to go to extraordinary lengths to protect their children from all kinds of harm.  That protection can take many forms—for example, car seats and safer cribs—but one of the most basic ways that parents can protect their infants is through immunization.

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States. This year, NIIW is scheduled to be held April 21-28.

Young children rely on the champions in their lives to keep them safe and healthy.  Those champions may be parents who keep a record of their child’s vaccinations and ask at each doctor appointment whether their child is up-to-date on immunizations. And, those champions may also be doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and other healthcare professionals who share scientifically-accurate, up-to-date information about vaccines with parents. This year, during NIIW, communities across the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia celebrate the CDC Childhood Immunization Champions. These recipients of a new annual award are being recognized for the important contributions they have made to public health through their work in childhood immunization.

TIP President and CEO, Anna C. Dragsbaek, was recently named a Childhood Immunization Champion for Texas.  Her passion for protecting

children from vaccine-preventable diseases evolved from her work in West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer, where she witnessed countless children suffering from diseases that were all but eliminated in developed countries, yet were prevalent in her village.

Polio, measles and rotavirus claimed the lives of countless infants under the age of five,” said Anna.  “No parent should have to bury a child for something that is completely preventable.  That experience inspires the work I do every day.”

Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. Even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can be brought into the country, putting unvaccinated children at risk. One example of the seriousness of vaccine-preventable diseases was the California whooping cough epidemic of 2010, resulting in the death of 10 infants. Nationally, more than 21,000 cases of the whooping cough were reported in 2010.   Only a concentrated community effort can stop vaccine-preventable diseases like pertussis.  Protect an infant—become a champion for childhood immunization.  Share with your family and friends why you think immunization are vital to our children’s well-being.

Do you want to call out an immunization champion in your life?  Leave a message here and tell us about the amazing things your champion does to support immunization.

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