Greer Parent Advocates for Infant Vaccinations, Wins National Award

Apr 30, 2019

Kimberly Nelson, founder of SC Parents for Vaccines.
Credit www.cdc.gov

When Greer parent Kimberly Nelson put her 6-week old son in child care for the first time, something happened that would scare her- the flu began to spread through the center. The baby in the crib next to her son’s became severely ill and was hospitalized for a week. Nelson was inspired to start the advocacy organization South Carolina Parents for Vaccines.

Nelson's story is detailed on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) website; she is a 2019 winner of the agency's Childhood Immunization Champion awards. The awards acknowledge the outstanding efforts of individuals who strive to ensure that children are fully immunized against 14 preventable diseases before the age of 2. 

LISTEN: Nelson shares her story on NPR's All Things Considered. 

This year, April 27 through May 4 is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW). The annual observance  highlights the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States.

14 preventable diseases, CDC says children (before age 2) should be immunized fo

Chickenpox (Varicella)     Diphtheria     Hepatitis A      Hepatitis B

Hib     Influenza (flu)     Measles     Mumps     Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pneumococcal Disease    Polio      Rotavirus      Rubella     Tetanus

Prisma Health Doctor Anna-Kathryn Burch
Credit Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

Data shows that infectious diseases are on the rise, in the United States. The number of measles cases now surpasses 700. The New York Times reports that children under 5 account for about half of the cases. Outbreaks in California, Washington State and New York have caused medical professionals across the country to urge parents to use reputable source to learn the facts and get their children vaccinated. 

Recently Prisma Health Infectious Disease Doctor Anna-Kathryn Burch said vaccines are safe and protect people. She also explained that along with the pain, discomfort and health issues of the measeles, the disease can also cause further health problems.

"The measles also decreases your immune system for weeks to a month after you have it. So that means you are at a much higher chance of getting things like pneumonia, that can kill you."

The measeles is one of the most highly infectious diseases, to impact the United States.  Burch said a person can be infected up to two hours after a person with the measles coughs or sneezes in an area.

Below, Burch explains why we are now seeing an increase in some infectious disease cases today and the difference between the chicken pox and the measles. There have been no cases of the measles in South Carolina this year. But according to DHEC, there were six confirmed cases in the Upstate in 2018.