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Immunizing Your Infant: A Wise Investment in Health

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | 05:18am

National Infant Immunization Week is April 24-May 1

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health is observing National Infant Immunization Week this April by educating parents about the great health and financial benefits of timely vaccination. Children born in Tennessee today will be protected from 14 different diseases through routine vaccinations by the time they reach their second birthday. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just reported the returns on our investment in childhood vaccines, stating that for every $1 spent to immunize infants, society saves more than $10 that would have been spent on the consequences of illness and death from these preventable diseases.

“Immunizations are one of the most important investments we can make to safeguard the future of our children,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “We urge all parents to talk with their child’s health provider to be sure they benefit from all the vaccines recommended to help keep children healthy.”

Tennessee is among the top-rated states for its immunization rates of young children, and immunization coverage is at record high levels among American children. To help ensure that our youngest children stay safe and healthy, in 2010 Tennessee expanded childhood immunization requirements to better protect children from serious diseases, especially those that can spread easily in a school or pre-school setting. Information for parents about immunization requirements for child care and school is available online at

Vaccines required by the state to attend school and child care facilities are already among those routinely recommended for all children by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, so most young children have already received them. Parents should talk with their child's health care provider to be sure they have had everything they need.

“Of course, the real reason to vaccinate our children isn’t the money we save. Today’s vaccines save the lives of 42,000 American children each year and prevent hundreds of thousands of children from being hospitalized,” said Kelly L. Moore, MD, MPH, medical director of the Tennessee Immunization Program. “Parents, doctors, nurses and public health professionals all must invest time and energy to be sure every infant born in Tennessee is fully protected, and we know this is time well spent.”

While insurance covers the costs of vaccination for many children, those younger than age 19 who have TennCare as well as children who do not have health insurance can receive free vaccines through the federal Vaccines for Children Program in participating private medical offices and county health departments. Parents should ask their child's health care provider if they participate in VFC. If a child has insurance that does not pay for vaccines or if parents are unable to afford them, local health departments and community health centers may provide the immunizations. Health departments and VFC providers give vaccines for a small fee that can be adjusted based on the parent’s income.

For general information about vaccines, visit For more information on the new requirements, call your county health department or go to the Web at

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