State health officials stress importance of infant vaccines - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

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State health officials stress importance of infant vaccines

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Posted: Saturday, April 30, 2011 6:00 pm

Arizona infants lag behind when it comes to getting the full list of recommended immunizations by the time they turn 2, health officials say.

About 30 percent of babies in the state don't have all the shots needed by 24 months. The recommended shots include vaccines for measles, pneumococcal (to protect against Streptococcus pneumonia), Hib (to protect against a form of bacterial meningitis) and pertussis (or whooping cough).

Health officials are making a big push surrounding the last vaccine because children are not fully protected against whopping cough until they get the last of the three-dose vaccine at 12 months.

So to protect children, adults and older children who are around them, be sure they have the pertussis vaccine.

In 2010 the number of whooping cough cases in Arizona nearly doubled over the previous year.

California saw the largest outbreak of the disease since 1945, with 10 infant deaths.

"We're asking parents, adults, teenagers and grandparents as well to get their shots so we can stop the spread in the community," said Jennifer Tinney of the Arizona Partnership for Immunizations.

Her organization has partnered with many hospitals and women's doctors to encourage new moms to get their pertussis vaccine either in the hospital right after a baby's birth or shortly after during a post-partum visit.

Most infants eventually get caught up on their vaccines, Tinney said, during subsequent visits with pediatricians.

But access to shots should never be a problem.

Arizona participates in the federal Vaccines for Children program.

"Immunizations are available throughout the state," she said. "Here in Maricopa County we have several fire departments that hold clinics after hours and on Saturdays. Shots are free to kids who are uninsured, underinsured, on Medicaid or a Native American. We make sure any child that needs a shot has the ability to get one from somewhere."

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is April 23-30.

Arizona is hosting federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention events during the week in Tucson and Phoenix.

For information, see

Recommended vaccines for children 2 and younger

4 doses DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis)

3 doses polio

1 MMR (Mumps, Measles and Rubella)

3 doses Hib (protects against Haemophilus Influenzae Type B)

3 dose HepB (protects against Hepatitis B)

1 varicella (chicken pox)

Source: Maricopa County Department of Public Health

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or

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