-- Group Launches National Petition to Recognize National Immunization Awareness Month --
HOUSTON, Aug. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recognition of August as National Immunization Awareness Month, the patient advocacy group, Meningitis Angels, is launching an online petition to provide people across the country the opportunity to urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to add life-saving infant meningitis vaccines to the routine infant immunization schedule.
Last month, the CDC concluded a four-city public meeting tour to gather input on whether or not it should add FDA-approved meningitis vaccines to the existing recommended immunization schedule. While nearly 70 percent (69.75%) of all the regional hearing participants voted in favor of adding meningococcal vaccine to the schedule for infants and recommended that all children be vaccinated, Meningitis Angels Founder Frankie Milley realized an online petition would provide a great opportunity for those unable to attend the CDC meetings to weigh in on the discussion.
"Public input in this discussion is absolutely necessary," said Milley. "But with meetings in only four cities, there is a huge contingent of the public who were not able to voice their concern and support for these vaccines. We're launching a petition at www.protectinfantsnow.org so that concerned citizens nationwide, especially parents, can have their opinion heard and ensure that children's lives are saved."
Infants suffer from 35 percent of all cases of meningococcal disease in the U.S. While the FDA has already approved one infant meningitis vaccine and is expected to approve others in the coming months, the CDC is undecided about whether to add these life-saving vaccines to the routine infant immunization schedule. Adding safe and effective vaccines to the routine recommended immunization schedule would ensure that the federal government and insurance companies will cover shots for all families, including low-income and traditionally underserved communities, as well as assist state health departments educate the public on the disease and prevention. Currently, the federal Vaccines for Children Program pays for approximately 60 percent of all shots given to children in the U.S.
"The public also needs to know that a routine recommendation does not mean a mandate," added Milley. "It means that all families will have access to that vaccine, whether they are insured or not, and that doctors will gain knowledge about and access to that vaccine."
While August is usually the month that students prepare to return to school, Milley asks that parents add an item to their back-to-school checklist:
"National Immunization Awareness Month is the perfect time to make sure all children are protected against preventable disease, including our smallest, most vulnerable and voiceless victims – infants."
For facts on meningitis and information on how to get involved and encourage the CDC to protect infants from this deadly disease, please visit www.protectinfantsnow.org or check out the Protect Infants Now cause page on Facebook.
Meningitis Angels' mission is to educate the public, health professionals, child care facilities, schools and universities on meningitis and other vaccine-preventable diseases through personal stories, educational brochures, posters and videos.
For information on Meningitis Angels, please visit http://meningitis-angels.com.
SOURCE Meningitis Angels