Protection against 12 different communicable diseases available for infants and toddlers

In recognition of National Infant Immunization Week (April 24, 2005 through April 30, 2005), the Nassau County Department of Health urges all parents to ensure that their infants and toddlers are fully protected from the following vaccine preventable diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza (meningitis), varicella (chickenpox), pneumococcal disease and influenza. Many of these diseases are life threatening in infants and young children.

It is extremely important to protect the health of our children by immunizing them against these vaccine preventable diseases. These diseases can spread rapidly among children who are not immunized and can have severe consequences to the very young as well as to adults who are not protected. Families are encouraged to check with their doctors to make sure every child's immunizations are up to date. All children are required by New York State law to have certain immunizations before they can start nursery school, preschool programs, day care or kindergarten.

In a sample review of the immunization levels of the county's two-year-old children completed in 2004, even though most children were immunized against each of the separate diseases, only 52% of the two-year-old children were fully immunized against all these diseases. A total of 88% of the two year old children surveyed were fully immunized for their age against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) with four doses of vaccine and 99% had received three doses of the vaccine; 92% were fully immunized for their age against polio with three doses of vaccine; 89% were immunized against measles, mumps and rubella with the one dose recommended by this age; 98% were immunized against haemophilus influenza (meningitis) with three doses of vaccine; 95% were fully immunized against hepatitis B with three doses of vaccine; 93% were fully immunized against varicella (chickenpox) with one dose of vaccine. However, only 62% were fully immunized with four doses of vaccine against pneumococcal diseases because there was a temporary shortage of this vaccine and the interim recommendations were to give each child only two doses.

The current American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Practice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations are that all children, by age two years, should have the following immunizations: 4 doses of DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis); 3 doses of polio, 1 dose of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), 3 doses of hepatitis B, 3 doses of haemophilus influenza (meningitis), 1 dose of varicella (chicken pox), 4 doses of pneumococcal vaccine and an annual influenza vaccine.

Many Nassau County physicians have participated in the Health Department's program to assess the immunization levels of the county's two-year-old children. The physicians have received Certificates of Recognition and Excellence from both the New York State and Nassau County Commissioners of Health for their role in the statewide Provider Based Immunization Initiative.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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