News Release
April 20, 2012
Contact information

State, local health officials join in national effort to increase awareness of importance of immunizations for infants

National Infant Immunization Week is April 21-28

The Minnesota Department of Health will join local, state and national public health partners in calling attention to the importance of immunizations in protecting infants and their communities with a variety of special activities and events during National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) April 21-28

In Minnesota, the week will be anchored by several key events:

    • Parents whose children suffered serious illness from vaccine-preventable diseases will share their experiences with media and guests at a special event Wednesday, April 25 from 10-11 a.m. at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. They will join local pediatricians and public health professionals in sharing stories about the importance of immunizations in keeping babies healthy and often saving lives. Dr. Robert Jacobson, president-elect of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a pediatrician at Mayo, will be the host. Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger will give brief remarks and present an NIIW proclamation from Gov. Mark Dayton. [Details of the event will be provided in a media advisory Monday.]
    • On Monday, April 23, MDH will announce the Minnesota winner of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Childhood Immunization Champion Award.
    • MDH staff will provide information on immunizations and hand out Homer Hankies with an immunization message to the first 1,000 people who visit the kiosk at the Minnesota Twins game Wednesday evening, April 25. The kiosk is located by section 117 behind home plate.

    "We want parents to know that immunization is one of the surest and safest ways to make sure their babies grow up to be healthy and strong," said Kristen Ehresmann, director of infectious disease for MDH. "While the vast majority of parents vaccinate their babies on time according to the recommended schedule, some parents are hesitant to vaccinate," Ehresmann said. "We want to make every effort to reach those parents with accurate, science-based information that will help them make the best choice for their child."

    To address hesitancy and other concerns by parents, MDH and partner efforts will emphasize that:

      • Vaccines protect children and are safe.
      • Getting more than one recommended shot at a check-up does not "overload" a child's immune system.
      • Because of the success of vaccines, we don't often see vaccine preventable diseases in Minnesota or the U.S., so parents may believe certain vaccines are not needed. But the diseases are still out there, so we need to remain vigilant.
      • Cost should never be a barrier to getting vaccine -- help is available for low income Minnesotans and those without health insurance through the Minnesota Vaccines for Children (MnVFC) program.

      For NIIW in Minnesota, MDH and its immunization partners will take extra steps to provide information to health care providers and parents to help them discuss vaccines. For example, a special edition of an immunization clinic newsletter and a special NIIW page on the MDH website will offer lists of resources for providers and parents. An NIIW message will run on the Minnesota Twins scoreboard at home games until April 28 and a video public service announcement featuring a Twins player will be shown at the ballpark on April 25. Twitter and Facebook posts will reinforce messages and point readers to more information on the MDH website.

      During this week, MDH and its public health partners advise parents to:

        • Ask your doctor at each visit whether your child needs any immunizations.
        • Look for reliable sources of immunization information.
        • Talk to your doctor about the MnVFC program if cost seems to be a barrier to getting your child vaccinated.
        • Vaccinate yourself and other family members to create a cocoon of protection around infants too young to be vaccinated.

        For more information about NIIW and immunizations, visit the MDH website at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/immunize/niiw.html.

        -MDH-


For more information, contact:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications
651-201-4993

Kristen Ehresmann
Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division Director
651-201-5414