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Immunizations protect children from serious diseases, including measles

Get back on track during National Infant Immunization Week, April 22-29

Childhood immunization rates dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic when many families were unable to keep up with well-child check-ups. Due to this drop in immunizations, health officials have been urging families to get their children back on track. National Infant Immunization Week, April 22-29, is the perfect time to remind families to get children caught up on the vaccines they missed during the pandemic.

In 2019, 69.2% of Minnesota’s 2-year-olds were up to date for recommended immunizations, but by 2023, that rate had fallen to 63%, according to data from the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC) on the Public Health Data Portal. Data from Childhood Immunization Coverage shows vaccination rates are also down throughout the U.S., a troubling trend, particularly as cases of measles, a highly contagious vaccine-preventable disease, have recently occurred in numerous states, including Minnesota.

“Getting babies recommended immunizations by 2 years of age is the best way to protect them,” said Jessica Hancock-Allen, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). “We know families are busy, but we also know they want what’s best for their children, so this is a reminder that it’s never too late to get children caught up on the vaccines they need for protection against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.”

National Infant Immunization Week highlights the importance of protecting infants from serious diseases by keeping them up to date with their well-child visits and recommended immunizations. Vaccines help reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Without that protection, children are more likely to get measles, RSV, whooping cough and other diseases prevented by vaccines.

“As adults who care deeply for our children, we understand that we want to set our children up for success in all aspects of life – including their health,” said Dr. Andrea Singh, chair of pediatrics at Park Nicollet and co-lead of Children's Health Initiative. “Vaccines help our children’s immune systems recognize and fight infectious diseases that have the potential to cause serious bodily harm and even death. We all want to do right by our children and when it comes to their health, getting them fully vaccinated is a key piece of that puzzle for parents.”

Health officials are encouraging parents to take these action steps during National Infant Immunization Week:

• Check your child’s immunization record to see what vaccines your child has received and what vaccines they may need. Go to Find My Immunization Record to request it from MDH or learn about using the free, secure app called Docket.

• Contact your child’s health care provider to schedule a well-child visit and immunization.

• Find a clinic that offers free or low-cost shots for children if your child does not have health insurance or insurance may not cover all the costs.

Learn more about the importance of childhood immunization and find additional resources at Immunization: Me and My Family.

-MDH-

 

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