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Are You Up-to-Date? Vaccinate!

PRESS RELEASE
National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB)
4401 Ford Avenue
Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22302
MEDIA CONTACT:
Jennifer Sharp, jsharp@hmhb.org or 703-838-7552

National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition Calls on the Country to Observe National Immunization Awareness Month

August 30, 2010 – During National Immunization Awareness Month, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) is reaching out to educate families about the need for immunization across the lifespan. 

The importance of immunization at all ages and stages is an especially crucial message this summer, as several states have seen pertussis (whooping cough) outbreaks, resulting in serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths. Pertussis is a highly-contagious disease caused by a bacteria that causes inflammation and swelling of the respiratory tract, creating blocked breathing passages.

Infants, whose airways are smallest, are particularly at risk for pertussis and other vaccine-preventable diseases. It is therefore essential that all who have contact with infants – from extended family members to childcare providers – are vaccinated for pertussis with the Tdap booster, as well as for other diseases.

“Vaccines are effective at preventing illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths. They save lives, but only if we take advantage of them,” said Judy Meehan, Chief Executive Officer of HMHB. “It’s crucial that we recognize immunization as a community affair, a family affair and a health priority across the lifespan. National Immunization Awareness Month is an opportunity for us to remind the public of the power of prevention.”

Throughout its 30-year history, HMHB has been an active proponent of immunization as an optimal strategy for health. HMHB works to increase awareness that immunization is important for health in all stages of life – from infants to the elderly. The Coalition actively works with its partners to see that the latest science is in the hands of those who need it most.

In response to the recent outbreaks, HMHB has announced a new “Interviews with Experts” Q&A on pertussis, featuring pediatrician and author Dr. Ari Brown. In addition, HMHB partners are empowered to share timely immunization messages through its “Fast Facts for Families” brochures.  The Coalition also reaches pregnant women and new mothers with immunization topics through its award-winning free mobile health messaging program, text4baby.

HMHB’s pertussis Q&A with Ari Brown is available here. For the Fast Facts for Families series, go to Fast Facts For Families in our Virtual Library. Learn more about text4baby at www.text4baby.org.

More information about National Immunization Awareness Month is available from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niam.

About HMHB
The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) is the only coalition of its kind which acts as a catalyst for change by creating partnerships among community groups, nonprofit organizations, professional associations, businesses and government agencies. The Coalition promotes optimal health for mothers and babies, and works to strengthen families and build healthy communities.