National Immunization Week is at the forefront in New Jersey where State Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd is urging New Jersey parents to get their children immunized in an effort to protect them from disease. 

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O'Dowd met with families at a child immunization clinic at the Monmouth County Health Department in Freehold today.

"Every parent wants what's best for their children.  Giving babies the recommended immunizations by age two is the best way to protect them from childhood diseases like whooping cough and measles," said O'Dowd.

The 2011 National Immunization Survey found that nearly 80 percent of New Jersey children ages 19 to 35 months received the recommended vaccine doses compared to the national average of 77 percent.  The vaccines provide protection against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella, haemophilus influenzae type B and chickenpox.

The Commissioner's visit was also part of a month-long celebration of National Minority Health Month.  According to a 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, immunization rates did not differ by racial or ethnic groups for most vaccines, in contrast to other health services among these groups.  But, vaccination rates for minority children were similar to, or higher than levels among white children.