COUNTY – Each year, numerous vaccine-preventable illnesses are reported in Illinois. Certain diseases, such as measles, are making a comeback as some parents choose to either delay or decline vaccinations for their children. In observance of National Infant Immunizations Week, April 26 to May 3, the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is reminding parents to follow the recommended immunization schedule to protect their infants and children by providing immunity early in life.
"Babies need to visit a doctor or clinic for vaccinations at least five times by the age of 2 for protection against serious childhood diseases," said Tony Beltran, the Lake County Health Department's executive director. "Immunizations not only provide individual protection to each child, but protect the health of the entire community."
The health department's immunizations program works to prevent the spread of illness by vaccinating adults and children for protection against a wide variety of diseases. These diseases can be especially serious for infants and young children.
Last year the program provided more than 20,000 vaccinations to babies up to 2 years of age and more than 23,000 vaccinations to children between 2 and 18 years of age. Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world. In 2013, the Lake County Health Department investigated nine outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses.
One example of the seriousness of vaccine-preventable diseases is an increase in measles cases or outbreaks that were reported in 2013. Data from 2013 showed a higher than normal number of measles cases nationally and in individual states, including an outbreak of 58 cases in New York City that was the largest reported outbreak of measles in the United States since 1996.
Vaccines not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Diseases that vaccines protect against include chickenpox, diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, rubella, tetanus, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, rotavirus, haemophilus influenza type b, pneumococcus and influenza. For the 2014 infant immunizations schedule, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/child.html.
Immunizations are available by appointment only at the Lake County Health Department's Immunizations Clinic, 2303 Dodge Ave. in Waukegan. The clinic is open Monday through Friday and on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. For information or to make an appointment, call 847-377-8470 or visit www.health.lakecountyil.gov/Population/Pages/Immunizations.aspx.