Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
April 19, 2016

Contact Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9356 or leah.bucco-white@nebraska.gov

Importance of Immunization from Infants through Adolescence
It’s National Infant Immunization Week Through April 23

Lincoln— Immunization programs protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases and promote healthy communities. During National Infant Immunization Week, Nebraska can celebrate a high childhood immunization rate of just over 80 percent which ranks the state as fourth in the nation. 

“We’re helping children live better and healthier lives through vaccination,” said Courtney Phillips, Chief Executive Officer for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. “Vaccines are among the most successful, cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death and the numbers show Nebraskans are pretty good about making sure their young children are up-to-date. Vaccines not only help protect those who receive them, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.”

Routine immunizations are also recommended for adolescents 13-17 years old for protection against diseases including tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, meningococcal disease, and human papillomavirus. Nebraska currently ranks 29th in the nation for vaccine coverage among adolescents. This is an area where the state can and should do better.

“Just the way we protect our babies and young children with immunizations, we need to continue do the same for them as they grow up.  As parents and healthcare providers we have the opportunity to do much better to protect adolescents from diseases such as a type of brain infection,  whooping cough,  tetanus,  and some types of cancer,” said Dr. Ali S. Khan, Dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health.

HPV vaccine prevents various forms of cancer, but HPV vaccine remains underutilized. In Nebraska, 43.3 percent of girls and 22.3 percent of boys have received the recommended three doses of HPV vaccine.

DHHS urges health care professionals to give a strong recommendation for all of the adolescent vaccines recommended for boys and girls. Clinicians should recommend HPV vaccine as they would recommend tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and meningococcal vaccines. Reviewing vaccination status at every health care visit is another strategy doctors and nurses should take to increase vaccination coverage.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to ask about vaccination every time they take their children in for a health care visit. If boys or girls (age 11 or 12 years) have not received HPV, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and meningococcal vaccines, it’s important to make an appointment to get them vaccinated.

For more information on the importance of immunization and what vaccines are recommended when, visit http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Immunization/Pages/Home.aspx

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