Officials urge vaccines during National Immunization Week

MILWAUKEE -- The importance of immunizing children against potentially deadly illnesses is an issue that gains attention during the winter months, with the rise in illnesses like whooping cough that can be deadly for infants. April 21st through the 28th is National Immunization Week, and doctors and the Centers for Disease Control are again hoping to drive home the importance of vaccination.

Health officials say vaccination is one of the best ways to keep a little one safe. "Infant immunizations are probably one of the most vital medical things that we provide for children here in the office as a primary care physician," Doctor Heather Sielaff said.

Sielaff says the importance of vaccines really came to life when cases of whooping cough became more prevalent just a few months ago. There is a vaccine available to protect against whooping cough, or pertussis. "Children under age two, four and six months who get whooping cough are oftentimes hospitalized in ICUs - not on general hospital floors, because they get sicker in a way they can't get over," Sielaff said.

Some parents are concerned that the measles, mumps rubella vaccine could be linked to autism, but Doctor Sielaff says those studies have been discredited. "It was a poor study that wasn't done very well, funded by a company that was looking for some things to help boost their own sales. Now, in the last couple of decades, we've done multiple studies that have really disproved that link," Sielaff said.

Health officials say infant immunizations also protect others with weakened immune systems. "Vaccinating your children doesn't just protect your child. It protects vulnerable groups in our community that really depend on everybody being well-vaccinated," Sielaff said.

CLICK HERE for more information on National Immunization Week 2012, and recommended vaccination schedules via the CDC's website.

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