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During the first years of a child’s life, cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development are inextricably linked.  Poor health in a very young child can have negative impacts on other areas of development[1].  The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) considers health and safety practices as the foundation of quality early care and education settings, and includes immunization as a key component of its Caring for Our Children Basics guidelines [2]

 

Immunizations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) help protect infants and young children from 14 diseases, such as whooping cough, that can be very serious or even deadly.  Institutional outbreaks of whooping cough, such as those in a daycare center or school, are common, taking place each year in many states. Measles outbreaks in childcare settings have also been documented.  

 

“By keeping children healthy and decreasing the chances of outbreaks, immunizations can help early childhood programs create a safe environment for children,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.  “This not only applies to child care settings, but also to programs in home settings, where infants and young children be can be exposed to diseases through family and friends.” 

 

Here are five ways that you can support on-time immunization of infants and young children in your early childhood program:

 

1.       Ensure that families in your program are vaccinated according to CDC’s recommended schedule and meet your state’s child care vaccination requirements.  Consult your state health department’s website to find a list of required vaccines.  Find out if your state has an immunization registry.  If it does, ask your state immunization program if early childhood administrators can use it to verify children’s vaccination status. 

 

2.       Ensure that your staff are vaccinated as well, so that they don’t pass along a disease to the children in your program.  It’s especially important for them to be up to date on their pertussis, measles, and flu shots.

 

3.       Promptly notify your state or local health department if any children in your program come down with a notifiable vaccine-preventable disease.  Visit your health department’s website for a list of notifiable diseases in your state.

 

4.       Parents may seek the advice of early childhood program staff when it comes to health and safety issues, especially if their child does not have a regular primary care provider.  Provide your program staff with basic information about the childhood immunization schedule and the benefits and risks of vaccination.  Incorporate this information into your training for new hires and organize special professional development sessions for existing staff.  CDC’s vaccine website for parents (https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents) contains useful information for staff without medical training. (See the Resources section.)  CDC also has a suite of materials for health care professionals, which can be accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/conversations.

 

5.       Educate families in your program about vaccine-preventable diseases and the importance of on-time immunization.  There are many ways to do this.  For example:

a.       Post a link to CDC’s vaccine website for parents (https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents) on your program website.

b.      Post messages promoting immunization on your social media accounts. Visit https://go.usa.gov/xxT7R for sample Facebook posts and https://go.usa.gov/xxT7d for sample Twitter messages.

c.       Order free copies of CDC’s Parents Guide to Immunizations and distribute them to parents in your program: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/tools/parents-guide.

d.      Print, and distribute copies of CDC’s Immunizations and Developmental Milestones Tracker: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/milestones-tracker.pdf.

e.      Print and distribute copies of CDC’s fact sheet “Infant Immunization FAQs”, which is available in English and Spanish: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/parent-questions.html

f.        If there is a disease that is of particular concern in your community, print and distribute CDC’s disease fact sheets (available in English and Spanish): https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/diseases

g.       Print CDC immunization posters and display them in your facilities: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/promotional/print-materials/ads-posters.html#print-ads

h.      Publish CDC’s drop-in articles for parents through in your newsletter or blog: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/media-tools.

 

Immunizations keep children healthy so that they can spend more time learning, growing, and socializing with peers.  Early childhood programs have an important role to play in educating the parents of young children about the benefits of immunization and ensuring that children in their programs stay on schedule with their vaccines. 

 

 


[1]Ensuring Adequate Health Coverage for Infants and Toddlers.  Zero to Three. Policy Resource.  March 9, 2008.  https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/442-ensuring-adequate-health-coverage-for-infants-and-toddlers

[2] Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2015. Caring for Our Children Basics. Health and Safety Foundations for Early Care and Education. 

COVID-19 UPDATES

NATIONAL ACCREDITATION COMMISSION UPDATE: (6/1/2020)

Beginning 6/1/2020, the National Accreditation Commission will resume conducting validation visits. The Accreditation Office will work with individual programs to determine the impact of local restrictions on a potential visit. The safety of program families and staff and National Accreditation Commission validators is of the utmost importance and at the heart of all decisions made during the ongoing public health crisis. Please direct any questions and concerns to Erin Schmidt, Director of Accreditation, at [email protected]. Please monitor this website for further developments and updates. From the Accreditation Team to your team, stay safe and be well.

2020 NATIONAL CONFERENCE UPDATE: (7/6/2020)

The AELL Board of Directors met and made a unanimous decision to transition our 2020 conference to a virtual event for the safety and well-being of our participants, our staff, and our volunteers. This was not an easy decision, and tears were shed. This event has become a “reunion” each year as old friends and new come together to connect in meaningful and powerful ways.  Please know that our hearts hurt with yours that we won’t be together in-person this year.  We are saving hugs, high-fives, and fist bumps for Orlando 2021!

For details and additional information about the 36th Annual National Conference, please visit our Conference page.

COVID-19 WEBINARS & DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCES

For access to our free COVID-19 related webinars and downloadable resources, please visit our Upcoming Webinars page.