By the President of the United States of America
I believe that each child in this country must have the opportunity to live a healthy and full life. Therefore, I am taking dramatic steps to ensure that all children are fully immunized at the earliest appropriate age against preventable, infectious diseases.
Immunizations save lives, prevent suffering, and allow significant savings in health care costs. Ironically, in this country, which develops and produces the majority of the world's vaccines, current immunization levels among two-year-olds fall between just 37 and 56 percent. In the recent measles epidemic, for example, an estimated one-half of the reported cases occurred among unvaccinated preschool children. Today, measles vaccine coverage is reported to be as low as 50 percent among two-year-olds in some inner-city populations.
My Administration has launched a comprehensive initiative on immunization, including new funding for immunization programs in cities throughout the United States.
In addition, I have submitted legislation that, if passed, would provide for free vaccinations to all children, a new tracking system to help inform parents when immunization is needed, new avenues of outreach to parents, and other necessary measures designed to create a comprehensive immunization program.
We must expand our efforts to every community and demand the full attention and cooperation of everyone in our society in order to find solutions to our problems. Much is being done. Federal, State, and local governments are devising innovative ways to deliver vaccines at more reasonable costs. We are attempting to make providers more sensitive to the need to eliminate barriers and problems that cause children to miss immunizations. New partnerships and coalitions are being formed between the public and private sectors.
Parents and adults responsible for safeguarding our youngest children must be made aware of the seriousness of the problem and act appropriately. More than 80 percent of all recommended vaccinations should be given before children are two years old-well before they start school.
We must acknowledge this problem, accept our individual and collective responsibilities, and get the job done.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the last full week of April as National Preschool Immunization Week, beginning with April 1993. I call upon all Americans, especially parents and health care providers, to do their part to help in this fight and to observe this week annually with appropriate activities and recognition ceremonies.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventeenth.
William J. Clinton