WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today, during National Infant Immunization Week, introduced the Infant Immunization Improvement Act of 2008. The Infant Immunization Improvement Act, cosponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), aims to increase infant immunization rates, provide funds for coordination of immunizations at Women, Infant and Children (WIC) clinics and authorizes and funds age appropriate immunization outreach and awareness campaigns. The legislation would also establish a sense of the Senate for integrating immunization systems with health information technology.

“This legislation will not only help Alaska, but all states to boost their children’s immunization rates,” said Senator Murkowski. “We must begin protecting our children when they are infants. With this bill we can help make parents aware of the importance of properly vaccinating their children.”

“Immunization is the single most effective way to protect against infectious diseases – and to prevent them from spreading – yet too many kids across the country are going without important vaccinations,” Senator Murray said. “We need to help our communities spread the word about the importance of immunizations and make sure vaccines can get to kids who need them. I’m proud to co-sponsor this bill to help our children get a healthy start in life.”

The bill would provide funding for a program for WIC clinics in areas that have low immunization rates for children 0-35 months that would coordinate care or immunization services, recommend vaccines and may employ an immunization coordinator. The legislation also authorizes funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct public, age appropriate, immunization awareness campaigns and immunization education and outreach activities.

This legislation is particularly important to Alaska, which in 2007 was ranked 48th in the nation for immunization coverage. The bill is also fiscally responsibly in the long term – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every dollar spent on childhood immunizations saves $18.40 in direct and indirect medical costs.