CUMMING, Ga. — Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal is touting the importance of vaccinations.
“I just want to make sure our children are well and strong,” Deal said. “We are trying to promote healthy babies and healthy mothers.”
During a tour of the Women’s Center at Northside Hospital-Forsyth, Deal toured the facility, met with new mothers and staff to promote immunization.
The Georgia Children's Cabinet, chaired by Deal, initiated this lifesaving project to raise awareness of newborn vaccinations and reduce the number of infant deaths in the state.
The Children's Cabinet is spreading the word to Georgians by distributing greeting cards with detachable immunization records to new parents at local hospitals. The project is aimed at protecting the health of infants and ensuring all Georgia babies will be given an opportunity for a safe and healthy life.
Deal said she chose the month of July to promote immunizations as children gear to go back to school. She visited several hospitals in the metro Atlanta area.
“We want to start with them when they are little,” Deal said. “Whooping cough is coming back and people are being exposed to it.”
The cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. The coughing can make it hard to breathe.
“It’s hard enough for an older child or an adult, but it’s terrible for a little baby,” Deal said. “We want that to be taken care of and immunization helps.”
Deal provided immunization cards that the hospital can hand out to new mothers. The heavy stock cards provide areas where a parent can mark dates when vaccines were given in case the mother changes doctors.
“I can remember not too long ago we had an outbreak of measles,” Deal said. “We are just having old diseases crop up again.
Measles was at a 20-year high in the United States in May. There were 288 identified cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“So our purpose is to get the word out that they need to get their children immunized and they need to keep records, so these children don’t have to take it twice, so it’s importance for them to carry a card with them,” she said.
Communities where high percentages of parents decide not to fully vaccinate their children tend to see a rise in preventable diseases such as measles, whooping cough and tetanus, the CDC reported.
“There are a few who really don’t want to have that because they fear it,” Deal said. “If you are concerned about an immunization, stretch it out.”
Nurse Melissa Sugg, manager of the Women’s Center, also showed First Lady Deal the new special care nursery neo-natal intensive care.
“It’s so nice to see the passion that she shows,” Sugg said, “which we share.”