The bumps and bruises of childhood can’t always be avoided, but there is no reason for children to suffer from infectious diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. Polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis) and other illnesses are often thought of as diseases of past generations. While today’s parents may not have experienced these diseases, the germs still exist – and these diseases can re-emerge – if parents don’t vaccinate their children. To remind parents about the importance of childhood immunizations, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has launched a new educational awareness campaign called Protect Tomorrow during National Infant Immunization Week, April 24-May 1.
Protect Tomorrow reminds us of the terrible diseases of the past, and teaches parents that vaccines protect infants and children from infectious diseases that can lead to hospitalization, disability and even death. The campaign encourages parents to talk with their pediatrician about the benefits of vaccines, the importance of the recommended immunization schedule and how best to protect their child’s health.
Despite the vast body of evidence that shows the public health benefits of vaccines, a vocal minority of anti-vaccine activists is needlessly frightening the public, and putting children at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) annual National Immunization Survey, nearly one-quarter of children in the U.S. between the ages of 19 and 35 months did not receive the recommended series of childhood vaccines in 2008, the last year for which this data is available.
“Our goal for the campaign is to urge parents to get their children vaccinated today so they can have a healthy tomorrow,” said pediatrician Alanna Levine, MD, FAAP. “Each year, the recommended immunization schedule is reviewed and published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. It is critical that parents talk with their pediatricians and ensure their children are up-to-date with vaccinations so that children are protected and history does not repeat itself.”
The core components of the educational campaign are TV and radio public service announcements that recall the devastation of diseases that can now be largely prevented by vaccines. To complement the PSAs, there are resources available online at www.ProtectTomorrow.org, including vignettes featuring three individuals from the TV PSA recounting their personal experiences with these diseases. Those who log on can also access complete information about vaccines, including the recommended immunization schedule. The Protect Tomorrow Web site launches April 27.
The Protect Tomorrow campaign is a public health service of the American Academy of Pediatrics with support provided by Sanofi Pasteur.
For more information, contact Gina Steiner at 847-434-7945.
Editor’s Note: The AAP is offering a satellite interview opportunity with Dr. Alanna Levine, MD, FAAP, on Thursday, April 29, 2010, from 6:30 AM – 1:30 PM EDT. To book an interview or for more information, please contact West Glen Communications at 800-325-8677, x206.