Health and Family Services Cabinet
Public Health Promotes National Infant Immunization Week
Kentucky ranks second in the nation for compliance in childhood immunizations criteria
As part of National Infant Immunization Week April 20-27, the Kentucky Department for Public Health is reminding parents and caregivers of the importance of vaccinating infants and young children under the age of two. Gov. Steve Beshear has signed a proclamation declaring the week “Infant Immunization Week” in Kentucky to further emphasize this important means of protecting health and preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
“We are proud of the success of our vaccine program in Kentucky and commend our local health departments, health care providers, parents and caregivers who’ve supported efforts and made sure children received the vaccines they need to keep them healthy,” said Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, M.D. “Immunizations are a fundamental piece of the American public health system and absolutely vital to ensuring a healthier society. National Infant Immunization Week gives us an opportunity to remind the public of this and continue to promote the importance of vaccines – particularly for children under the age of two.”
National Infant Immunization Week is an annual observance, created in 1994, to promote the benefits of immunizations and to improve the health of children two years old or younger. Since it began, public health officials across the country have worked together to highlight the positive impact of vaccination on the lives of infants and children and to call attention to immunization achievements.
Kentucky, according to comparisons of state vaccination rates, is leading the way in terms of vaccinating its infants and young children.
In the National Immunization Survey for 2011(the most recent data available), Kentucky ranked number two in the nation for compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria for the routine series of childhood immunizations, with 77.6 percent of children 19-35 months meeting guidelines for recommended vaccines. Only North Dakota exceeded the performance of Kentucky. The national results were 68.5 percent.
“Our success should be celebrated, but our Kentucky Immunization Program continues to strive for a 100 percent vaccination rate among our children,” said Dr. Robert Brawley, communicable diseases chief. “We continue to stress the importance of immunizations in preventing the spread of dangerous diseases, which can – and do – return if populations are not appropriately vaccinated. If you have questions about vaccines, we strongly encourage you to speak with your health care provider for the most accurate, up-to-date information.”
Immunizations are widely available at various health care facilities, including provider practices, pharmacies, community health centers and local health departments. Meanwhile, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides free vaccines for administration by healthcare providers who serve eligible children. Routine immunizations are provided through the VFC program to patients through the age of 18 with little or no out-of-pocket costs.
In 2012, 622 healthcare providers participated in the Kentucky VFC program. Of those 622, 138 were local health departments, 132 were Federally Qualified or Rural Health Centers, 89 were public clinics and community clinics and 263 were private practices. There were 42 new providers in 2012. As a result of continued cooperation between providers and the VFC program, more than 1.1 million doses were sent to providers in 2012 for administration to Kentucky children.
The Kentucky Immunization Program works to provide services aimed at preventing and reducing the risk and incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases for all Kentuckians. Additional information about the program, including the recommended vaccine schedule, where to obtain vaccinations, and school entry requirements, can be found on the program’s website at http://www.chfs.ky.gov/dph/epi/Immunization+Program.htm or by calling (502) 564-4478.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is home to most of the state's human services and health care programs, including Medicaid, the Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health. CHFS is one of the largest agencies in state government, with nearly 8,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Commonwealth focused on improving the lives and health of Kentuckians.