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Many Children Still Develop Life-Threatening, Preventable Diseases

A major new immunization initiative has been launched by the AAP, one of NNii's partner organizations.

October 01, 2001

Contact:
AAP (www aap org) -


American Academy of Pediatrics, Wal-Mart, Pampers Parenting Institute Team up to Educate Parents on the Importance of Immunizing Children

For Release: September 25th, 2001

CHICAGO - Thousands of children in the U.S. will develop serious illnesses this year that could have been prevented by immunizations. Pertussis, or "Whooping Cough," alone has already infected 2,835 children and caused 17 deaths in 2001. Many parents may not know that immunizations need to begin in infancy. Children who lag behind in getting them are at risk of getting sick and may spread serious diseases to others.

"While the overall number of children who contract preventable disease is down 99 percent since the early 1970s, if even one child dies from an easily preventable disease, it's one child too many," said American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) president-elect Louis Cooper, M.D., FAAP. "Many parents are under the impression that because immunizations have prevented certain diseases for so many years, the diseases no longer exist. Others simply don't have a regular doctor to help keep their children on schedule for immunizations."

To help busy parents get on schedule and to educate them on the importance of fully immunizing their children, the AAP has joined with Wal-Mart and the Pampers Parenting Institute (PPI) to provide Child Health Records and information on immunizations to shoppers in more than 2,700 Wal-Mart stores nationwide through the Babies First campaign - a unique initiative to help educate families about children's health issues. The Babies First Child Health Record contains helpful tips, schedules and calendars, and enables parents to keep track of their children's medical history. This will be especially helpful for families who move often or don't have access to regular medical care.

Studies show that approximately 20 percent of children aged 19-35 months are not up-to-date on their immunizations, and low-income and minority children are at the greatest risk of under-immunization. These children can be in danger of contracting many life-threatening illnesses, including hepatitis B, polio and measles. Before these vaccines were invented, thousands of children died, became paralyzed or suffered other permanent damage from these diseases.

"Not fully immunizing children is one of the most serious and potentially fatal mistakes a parent can make with their child's health," said Cooper. "Babies First has provided an outlet to help us reach an audience that could have otherwise been missed.

"Vaccinating children on schedule is one of the easiest and most important steps parents can take to maintain their children's health. If we let our guard down, these children may die from preventable disease."

Not only do lack of immunizations leave children at risk for deadly diseases, they also indicate inadequacies in other areas of children's medical care, such as health insurance and a regular doctor or clinic. Programs such as the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) offer low-cost or free health insurance to these children, providing them with a medical "home" and a set schedule for vaccinations and immunizations. For more information about SCHIP, parents can call 1-800-KIDS NOW.

In addition to the Child Health Record, Wal-Mart stores nationwide will be involved in an array of Babies First activities throughout the month of October. These include:

  • Local events that involve pediatricians and other child advocates to educate parents on immunizations, child development, insurance and safety issues
  • Store displays with AAP brochures on immunizations, chicken pox, influenza and allergies

Launched in October 2000, Babies First is an ongoing initiative between Wal-Mart, the AAP, and the Pampers Parenting Institute designed to educate parents and caregivers across the country about issues surrounding their children's health and wellness.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 55,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For child health information and AAP recommendation, visit the web site at www.aap.org.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates more than 2,700 discount stores, Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets, and more than 490 SAM'S CLUBS in the United States. Internationally, the company operates more than 1,100 units. Wal-Mart employs 1.2 million associates worldwide. Last year, associates raised and contributed more than $190 million for charitable and non-profit organizations. Fortune Magazine has named Wal-Mart the third "most admired" company in America and one of the 100 best companies to work for in the United States, and Americans named Wal-Mart the company they think of first in supporting local causes and issues, according to Cone, Inc. More information about Wal-Mart's Good.Works. community involvement is available online at www.walmartfoundation.org.

The Pampers Parenting Institute is committed to providing parents with the best in information and support from the world's leading experts in child health and development, working together in innovative programs, alliances with major professional organizations and providing the latest research that impacts children. For more information about the PPI, visit the Web site at www.pampers.com.

Other Information:

Why Immunize?
10 Things You Need to Know About Immunizations
Babies First Backgrounder
Is Your Child Medically Up-to-Date?

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