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National Infant Immunization Week is Observed

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department this week is highlighting the importance of having kids vaccinated. KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more.

The Immunization Clinic on S. Scenic, run by the Springfield/Greene County Health Department, is a busy place. Last year, health department staff vaccinated 7,647 children against vaccine-preventable diseases.

This week is National Infant Immunization Week, which, according to the health department's immunization coordinator Leslie Davis, is a time to highlight the importance of protecting infants and young children against vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs. Davis says Greene County has a high percentage of vaccinated children.

"We have a CASA assessment, which does assess the children that are up-to-date by the age of two, and this was assessing the children last year that were born in the year 2004, and we reached a goal of 93 percent."

There are currently 14 different vaccines that are recommended for infants and small children.

"They can get the first, Hepatitis B, after they're born, and then, typically, they're going to get vaccinations at two months, four months, six months, 12 to 18 months and then boosters needed before kindergarten, age four to six."

According to Davis, infants are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. By vaccinating them on time, she says, hopefully that will deter any infectious diseases that might be out there.

Davis points out that several disease are no longer a threat because of vaccines.

"Small pox, of course, has been eradicated due to vaccination, and we don't see any wild polio in the United States today. We do see it in other countries, however. The rest of the diseases are still out there. We may not seem them, and it's because of high vaccination coverage, but they are still there. And especially with all the travel, the international adoption and travel, etc, we are seeing diseases being brought back into this country from other countries."

That's why she says having children vaccinated is important.

According to Davis, the preservative Thimerasol, which caused concern among some parents that it might contribute to the development of autism, has been taken out of vaccines for children and for pregnant women.

Some parents have also expressed concern that perhaps certain combinations of vaccines might have negative impacts on children. Davis says, while some parents have asked if they can separate the vaccines, the immunization clinic doesn't have the means to do so.

"We don't have them separate, and I don't think most doctors do. In order to get them separate, you would have to purchase ten of those, and we don't have enough need or want for individual dosing like that."

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department held a special vaccination clinic for infants and small children this afternoon. It also maintains regularly-scheduled walk-in clinics. To find out more, their number is 874-1220.