ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH
The RSA Tower, 201 Monroe Street, P.O. Box 303017, Montgomery, AL 36130-3017
(334) 206-5300 • FAX (334) 206-5520 Web Site: alabamapublichealth.gov
Keep your children’s vaccines and vaccine records up to date
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Karen Landers, M.D., F.A.A.P., (256) 246-1714
The Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) want to remind parents and caregivers of the importance of keeping their children’s vaccines up to date and maintaining accurate vaccine records for their families and themselves.
In order to prevent disease outbreaks, high levels of vaccination are needed to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases. People who are unvaccinated or had an unknown vaccination status represent the vast majority of cases in outbreaks.
One recent example of the need for high rates of vaccination is the resurgence of measles in the United States. Measles is highly contagious and can be a serious in all age groups. However, children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 are more likely to suffer from measles complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one out of four people who get measles will be hospitalized; one out of 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling (encephalitis) which may lead to brain damage; and one or two out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care. Two doses of measles vaccine are over 97 percent protective against the disease.
As of April 4, 2019, 465 cases of measles have been confirmed in the U.S. in 19 states, including 3 cases in Alabama’s neighboring state of Georgia.
In addition to the resurgence of measles, a disease that was thought to be eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, additional outbreaks of other vaccine preventable diseases not just the U.S. but within Alabama, demonstrate the need to maintain high vaccination rates. In 2017, there was an outbreak of mumps in Alabama, with 35 cases reported; 17 cases were reported in 2018. Mumps can occasionally cause complications, especially among adults.
“Children should be vaccinated according to the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as soon as they are in the eligible age group,” Brooke Haynes, M.D., F.A.A.P., pediatrician and chairperson of the Alabama Vaccine Advisory Committee, said.
Dr. Deanah Maxwell, President of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, urges vaccine providers to take advantage of Alabama’s patient registry with internet technology, or ImmPRINT system. This system is available to all health care providers who vaccinate and is a very helpful tool to ensure that patients are up to date on vaccines.
Immunization records for children for school entry (Certificate of Immunization) can be obtained from the immunization provider or county health department that administered their vaccines. Parents and caregivers should ask their current health care provider whether they have access to Alabama’s immunization registry.
Pediatrician and ADPH District Medical Officer Dr. Karen Landers said, “Vaccines have significantly reduced the burden of certain diseases such as measles and mumps, among others. Vaccines are one of the most important advances of public health in Alabama as well as the United States. We must continue to have high rates of vaccination and the ability to access vaccine information in order to prevent illnesses, save lives and reduce outbreaks in Alabama.”
Immunization information is available at alabamapublichealth.gov/immunization/ or by contacting the ADPH Immunization Division at (334) 206-5023 or toll free at 800-469-4599.