Immunizations. Many of us may have heard more about immunizations in the past two years than we ever expected. The good, the bad, the true and the untrue. It certainly became a hot-button issue that led to many discussions amongst friends, family, colleagues, and strangers alike. We found ourselves reading and listening in order to gain the best understanding in a time where certainty and comfort was hard to come by. One thing was for sure, vaccines have gained the public spotlight.
Given the current circumstances in the world, when we think about immunizations, our minds tend to drift towards COVID-19. While COVID-19 certainly deserves our attention, there are many other important vaccinations to receive. Unfortunately, over the past two years, Colorado has seen a decrease in routine childhood vaccination rates. In fact, there was an 8% decrease from 2020 to 2021. Contributing factors could include how at the height of the pandemic it made it difficult to maintain regularly scheduled appointments, as well as an increase in some misinformation surrounding immunizations. Regardless, public health officials are looking to address this issue. Which brings us to National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW).
Each year, NIIW focuses on educating and increasing vaccination rates in the community’s pediatric population to protect small children from vaccine-preventable diseases. Started in 1994, NIIW celebrates the long history of vaccines, vaccine safety, and vaccine efficacy. NIIW seeks to educate and promote vaccine programs and awareness in order to increase vaccination rates. It celebrates the fact that there are now 14 different vaccinations children can receive to help protect children from serious disease. NIIW highlights five key points during the week. Vaccines are highly effective, many deadly diseases have been reduced, all vaccine-preventable disease are extremely dangerous, the younger they receive vaccinations the more effective they are, and vaccines are safe. NIIW relies on us, the community, to help in this fight. Using our voices to promote, educate and increase awareness and positivity around immunizations to help keep our children and community safe and healthy.
Research and development of vaccines was once never a thought to many people, but the past two years have brought to light the process of development and approval for the vaccines. This increase of awareness has helped many people come to learn the rigorous and scientific steps needed to get them out to the world. It has aided in highlighting the detailed monitoring they go through and facilitated in the transparency of the safety process. Most importantly though, the biggest positive was that it showed that our increase in knowledge and vaccine technology can save lives. That immunizations can help people return to their loved ones and the things in life that brought meaning and joy.