Office of Communications
For more information contact:

Joe Thornton
Office of Communications & Legislative Affairs
West Virginia Department of health and Human Resources
Phone: 304-558-7899 Fax: 304-558-7075
Cell: 304-546-7960 e-mail:

For immediate release

Immunizations critical in preventing disease outbreaks

Nearly one out of four West Virginia 2-year-olds are not up to date with their immunizations. However, West Virginia's immunization coverage of 77 percent is slightly higher than the national average of 75 percent.

A recent resurgence in pertussis (whooping cough) illustrates immunization rates are not yet high enough to prevent outbreaks of life-threatening diseases that are vaccine-preventable.

August is National Immunization Awareness month. This year's theme "Are You Up to Date? Vaccinate!" reminds people of all ages about the importance of immunization.

August is back to school time for West Virginia’s youth. Students are entering college and the local health community is gearing up for the upcoming flu season.

Pneumonia and influenza (flu) are the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, with 36,000 people dying from flu in 2002. Both can either be prevented or have their effects greatly reduced by proper immunization.

Statewide, a computerized immunization registry was implemented in 1999 to track childhood immunizations. The West Virginia Statewide

Immunization Information System (WVSIIS) is a system that health care providers can use to make important decisions about what vaccines are needed by children.

Parents should ask their children's immunization provider if he or she participates in the WVSIIS so that their child's immunization record will always be retrievable by the family's health care provider(s).

For more information contact your local health department, the WV Immunization Program at 800.642.3634 or visit our website at

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