Each year, thousands of children become ill from diseases that could have been prevented by basic childhood immunizations. Countless more miss time from day care and school because they are under-immunized.
Dr. Letitia Tierney, Commissioner and State Health Officer for the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, visited Sacred Heart Early Learning Center in Charleston this morning to bring awareness about vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities. Joining her was Dr. Raheel Kahn, Chapter President, West Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and V-100 radio personality Jenny Murray, whose daughter contracted whooping cough, also known as pertussis, as an infant.
"It is important for the public to understand how important immunizations are to children in West Virginia in light of recent outbreaks of measles and mumps in other states and the ongoing resurgence of pertussis," Dr. Tierney said.
Examples include the recent mumps outbreak in Ohio, which has grown to more than 200 confirmed cases, and the measles outbreak in New York (25 confirmed cases) and California (60-plus confirmed cases).
West Virginia has one of the highest rates of immunizations for school-age children, but the second lowest for children who are younger than 2 years. This gap leaves this group susceptible to diseases such as measles and whooping cough, which can easily be prevented with vaccine. Ensuring children receive the recommended immunizations by age 2 is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases.
The 14 serious childhood vaccine-preventable diseases are: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Influenza, Measles, Rotavirus, Haemophilus Influenzae type B, Tetanus (Lockjaw), Mumps, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Pneumococcal Disease, Polio, Rubella (German Measles) and Varicella (Chickenpox).