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Humboldt County joins more than 2,000 U.S. communities this May in celebrating National Toddler Immunization Month.
The commemoration marks vaccination’s critical role in protecting children, and underscores the importance of fully immunizing children against diseases like whooping cough and measles.
The celebration is particularly important this year in light of new state legislation that as of Jan. 1, 2016 requires pre-school, kindergarten and 7th-grade children to be immunized before fall sessions begin.
Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Donald Baird urged parents to immunize their children at a young age when children’s immune systems are stronger than they will ever be again in their lifetime.
“We immunize children at two, four and six months of age because the mother’s antibodies in the child fade soon after birth,” Baird said, adding that immunization helps babies make their own immunity before the mother’s immunity wears off.
Humboldt County has a higher incidence of whooping cough than the state as a whole, with 41.5 cases per 100,000 people for the county and 12.3 per 100,000 for the state.
While there have been no measles cases reported in Humboldt County since 2014, in March the California Department of Public Health investigated a child diagnosed with measles in Nevada County.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is spread through the air when a person who is ill with the disease coughs or sneezes. The unvaccinated child showed symptoms of measles after returning to California from travel overseas, where the disease is prevalent.
“Protecting our children against vaccine-preventable disease like whooping cough and measles is every parent’s responsibility,” said DHHS Immunization Coordinator Susan Wardrip, RN. “Delaying or avoiding immunization can have tragic consequences.”
Wardrip urged parents to make an appointment now with their health care provider so that children are able to attend school without interruption.
”Routine infant and toddler immunizations will protect against serious illness in the future, and it’s something all parents can do for their children,” Wardrip said.
For more information about immunizations, contact your primary health care provider or Humboldt County Public Health at 707-268-2108. Information on school vaccine requirements can be found at www.shotsforschool.org.
For a handy immunizations tracker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visit the DHHS Facebook page at www.facebook.com/humcodhhs.
Follow us on Twitter: @HumCoDHHS and Facebook: www.facebook.com/humcodhhs.