FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Donna Tommelleo, 860-884-8472
April 26, 2009 firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that Connecticut will receive over $2.5 million in federal stimulus funds to support the state’s highly successful childhood immunization program.
“Childhood immunizations are critically important in protecting our children from preventable diseases and keeping them healthy,” Governor Rell said. “Connecticut is a national leader in this vital program, scoring among the top five states in childhood immunization coverage levels for the past 10 years. My goal is to build on this success and ensure that every child has a healthy start. These funds will help us in that goal.
“There is a clear link between effective vaccination programs and our state’s economy,” the Governor said. “We cannot build and keep a healthy work force without first having healthy children. Parents of sick children lose time at work. But more importantly, children who are sick often miss time in school and – in the worst cases –may suffer a lifetime of consequences from entirely preventable diseases. Childhood immunization makes sense from every perspective.”
The Department of Public Health plans to use the federal funds to purchase rotavirus vaccine for children in Connecticut. Rotavirus infection in infants and young children can lead to severe diarrhea and dehydration. Each year in the United States rotavirus is responsible for more than 400,000 doctor visits, more than 200,000 emergency room visits, 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations and as many as 60 deaths.
In 2007, Connecticut had the nation’s fourth highest rate of childhood immunization, with an 86 percent coverage rate for the basic immunization series among children 19 to 35 months of age.
Connecticut’s childhood vaccination program, which is administered by the Department of Public Health, works to stop the spread of preventable diseases. Activities include providing vaccine; educating medical personnel and the public on the importance of vaccinations; working with providers to assure that all children in their practice are fully immunized; assuring that children who are in day care, Head Start, and schools are adequately immunized; and conducting surveillance for vaccine-preventable diseases to evaluate the impact of vaccination efforts and to identify groups that are still at risk.