Last year in Utah, 147 children suffered from measles - an illness that can be prevented with vaccinations. And nationwide, 26,527 children suffered from the disease - the most since 1978.
National health officials worry that children are not getting their vaccinations on time. So the Association of Junior Leagues International is launching a drive with the motto "Don't Wait to Vaccinate.""Our message is simple and is found on our billboards, `Only Adults Can Prevent Childhood Diseases,' " said Suzanne Bond Plihcik, international president of the Junior Leagues.
Walter Orenstein, director of immunization for the Centers for Disease Control, said despite the availability of vaccines, some still suffer from diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, rubella, congenital rubella syndrome and tetanus.
He said more than 95 percent of American children are immunized by the time they enter kindergarten because schools require it. But many preschoolers are not immunized - and they need it the most.
He said many of them are poor and live in inner-city areas, where insufficient clinics hamper the availability of vaccinations.
"Thousands of children are suffering from diseases that could be easily prevented. Only four visits to health-care providers during the first two years of life are necessary to protect the vast majority of preschoolers against eight vaccine-preventable diseases," a scientific paper by Orenstein said.