AVON, Ind. - State and national health officials are pushing for parents to vaccinate their infants on time in the face of measles outbreaks.
Assistant U.S. Surgeon General Anne Schuchat and State Health Commissioner William VanNess announced on Wednesday at Avon's Indiana University Health West a national initiative to increase immunizations, including sending every newborn in Indiana a congratulatory card with a sheet to track vaccinations.
Both say vaccinating infants on schedule can protect them from deadly diseases. They say children whose parents wait until they're about to enter school could be vulnerable.
Dad Craig Monnett said he made sure his kids got their vaccinations on time.
"There are a lot of vaccinations. This is my first child and his first shots were hard on Daddy. But I know it's an important part of growing up healthy," Monnett said.
Although 99 percent of children are vaccinated by the start of school, only 61 percent get their immunizations on-schedule here in Indiana. That leaves Hoosier babies at risk for potentially deadly, preventable diseases like measles, mumps, chicken pox and whooping cough at a critically young age
"We are seeing some outbreaks and this year we've actually broken records. We have more than 150 cases of measles this year, which is three times what we saw by this time last year. And most of it's coming in on airplanes and finding places where folks haven't been vaccinated," Schuchat said.
Mom Amy Monnett said she wants to protect her children as well as others.
"Liam was super excited to have the first immunization card. It's very important not only for Liam, but for Liam to protect others too," she said.
Although some parents may still be concerned about rumored links between autism and vaccines, many studies show absolutely no link between the two.
The U.S. Surgeon General chose Indiana to kick-off the 20th National Infant Immunization Week Campaign because the state is leading the way in tech-health through the MyVax Indiana Program that allows parents to keep track of their children's immunization records online.
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