PHOTO: Ashley Williams from the Miami-Dade Head Start program receives a nasal application flu vaccine through the Miami Children’s Hospital Division of Preventive Medicine. Administering the vaccine is MCH’s Melissa Gamez (center) and Dr. Gloria Riefkohl.
Miami Children’s Hospital (MCH) is working to promote use of influenza vaccines among children in response to new Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines advising that youngsters between the ages of 6 months and 18 years receive the annual immunizations.
“Miami ranks last in the country among major metropolitan areas in terms of flu immunization rates,” said Dr. Marcelo Laufer, an infectious disease specialist at MCH. “Through collaboration with Head Start and other outreach initiatives, we hope protect this vulnerable population from this highly infectious virus.”
MCH and Head Start leaders held an influenza vaccination kick-off program this month in which a group of Head Start children received the vaccine. Head Start is a federally funded comprehensive child development program serving low-income families. In Miami-Dade County, the program serves more than 6,500 children.
“At Head Start, we are committed to providing children with opportunities for better health and education. We are pleased to work with Miami Children’s Hospital to promote vaccinations among the children we serve,” said Dr. Oscar Cambronero, a physician with the local Head Start program.
The CDC recently modified flu vaccination recommendations to include children. According to the CDC, in a typical year the flu causes an average of 36,000 deaths, 200,000 hospitalizations, 25 million physician visits and up to 60 million illnesses in the U.S.
Families are encouraged to contact their pediatrician regarding flu vaccinations for their children. Families may also contact Miami Children’s Hospital’s Division of Preventive Medicine at 305-669-5863.
ABOUT MIAMI CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
Founded in 1950 by Variety Clubs International, Miami Children's Hospital® is South Florida’s only licensed specialty hospital exclusively for children, with more than 650 attending physicians and over 130 pediatric sub-specialists. The 289-bed hospital is renowned for excellence in all aspects of pediatric medicine with several specialty programs ranked among the best in the nation in 2008 by U.S.News & World Report. The hospital is also home to the largest pediatric teaching program in the southeastern United States and has been designated an American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet facility, the nursing profession’s most prestigious institutional honor.