The Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) is reminding parents to get their children immunized before the new school year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses August as National Immunizations Awareness Month to highlight the importance of students being immunized against vaccine preventable diseases.

“Because of the success of vaccines in preventing diseases, parents may not have heard of some of today’s vaccines or the serious diseases they prevent,” said Cook County Department of Public Health chief operating officer Terry Mason, MD, FACS. “These diseases can be especially serious for infants and young children. Continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks.”

Even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can be brought into the country, putting unvaccinated children at risk. One example of the seriousness of vaccine-preventable disease is the increase in whooping cough (pertussis) cases or outbreaks that have been reported in a majority of states during 2012. Nationwide, the CDC reported more than 41,000 pertussis cases in 2012, the highest since 1959. Infants less than 1 year of age typically suffer the greatest burden of disease. In addition, children aged 7-14 years, in whom immunity has waned, are also at greater risk.

In suburban Cook County (SCC), cases increased 64% between 2011 and 2012. In 2012, SCC cases were predominantly among school-aged children, 10-14 years of age ([44%]) and in residents of the North district ([69%]). In addition, 43 cases were reported in infants less than 1 year of age in 2012, a 48% increase from 2011.

Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Diseases that vaccines protect against include chickenpox, diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, rubella and tetanus. For the 2013 immunizations schedule, visit:

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