|Melinda Wharton, M.D., M.P.H.|
Dr. Melinda Wharton, deputy director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke to students and faculty at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health during National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW).
“Surround our Babies with Vaccinated Families,” was the title of Dr. Wharton’s lecture on April 26. She provided an overview of diseases from which we protect young children by vaccinating adults and others around them, also known as “cocooning” and described the rationale for the cocooning strategy.
Wharton also discussed vaccination strategies to protect infants from pertussis, also known as whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory disease. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than one year of age.
National Infant Immunization Week (April 23-30, 2011) is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases. This year, Arizona was chosen by the CDC to host NIIW kick-off events and to highlight the cross-border efforts to protect all babies from disease.
NIIW is now part of a broad global initiative that is held in conjunction with the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Vaccination Week in the Americas. Ten border states have partnered with PAHO and the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission to bring additional focus to infant immunization in the U.S.-Mexico border region.