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CHICAGO - The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) today launches its ‘I AM AN OUTBREAK’ campaign to remind parents to get all recommended vaccinations for their children before the start of the 2014-15 school year. The campaign features outdoor transit, rail and billboard ads, as well as digital ads in English and Spanish that direct parents to various City resources to ensure their children can start the new school year healthy. The campaign messages include stark reminders of the potential for children to be affected by vaccine preventable outbreaks.
CDPH also partnered with Smart Chicago Collaborative to develop a ‘Back to School’ immunization app. The app helps parents find a convenient immunization event in their neighborhoods. Vaccines are provided to children ages six months to 18 years free of charge at the events.
“It’s especially important for us to reach parents with these clear-cut messages,” said CDPH Chief Medical Officer Julie Morita, MD. “These vaccines not only protect the children who receive them, but they have the potential to stop new outbreaks from occurring in schools.”
Among this year’s new vaccine requirements for students in Illinois are two doses of the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine. Every year for the past five years, CDPH has received reports of between 40 and 70 people infected with chickenpox. Most of these people were school-aged children. Since two doses of the vaccine are needed to provide the best protection from chickenpox, the new requirement for kindergartners, 6th and 9th graders to show proof of having received two doses will ensure that fewer of our Chicago students will get chickenpox.
“We know that there is a strong relationship between student health and academic success,” said Dr. Stephanie Whyte, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Chief Health Officer. “This is why we are stressing the importance of our students coming to school with up to date vaccines as well as health, vision and dental exams. Healthy students make better learners!"
In an effort to reduce cancer rates across the City and ensure the overall health and well-being of Chicago adolescents, CDPH also recommends that parents talk to their doctor about having their children vaccinated with the HPV vaccine. This cancer-preventing vaccine is administered in three doses over six months and is recommended for girls and boys ages 11-12.
The campaign runs through September 30th. To have your child vaccinated, talk to your doctor or call a pharmacy. If you do not have a doctor, call 311 to locate one of our Fast Track Immunization Clinics.
CDPH’s Immunization program works to increase vaccine coverage levels throughout the City as part of Healthy Chicago, a comprehensive agenda for community health improvement. CDPH and Mayor Emanuel launched Healthy Chicago in August 2011.