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Immunization Awareness Month
Each month the Georgia Children’s Cabinet, a division of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF), highlights health and education issues children may encounter in Georgia. First Lady Sandra Deal and GOCF Executive Director Katie Jo Ballard established July as Immunization Awareness Month, advocating the need for children to get immunized to prevent diseases such as polio, whopping cough and the measles from spreading.
As part of this initiative, they toured hospitals around Georgia, handing out greeting cards and talking to parents about the importance of immunization in their newborn children.
An Empathetic First Lady
On Monday, July 29, First Lady Deal and Ballard ended the Immunization Awareness tour by visiting two hospitals, one in Covington and one in Stockbridge. Patients, nurses and administrators scurried around with excitement to meet Mrs. Deal, and the First Lady expressed equal if not more excitement to meet and chat with them.
Mrs. Deal congratulated the new parents, inquired about names and, always conscious of the babies, spoke in a gentle, soft tone. As she toured the special care nursery at Piedmont Henry Hospital in Stockbridge, she quietly asked one of the nurses if the blanket needed to be adjusted on one of the incubators containing a newborn. She didn’t want the baby to be disturbed or put in any harm by the bright lights.
The Importance of Immunization
The First Lady constantly gave thanks and appreciation to the nurses and staff working at the hospitals for all their diligence. To the new parents, Deal provided congratulations and advice, telling the new mothers, “Drink lots of water!” or “Make sure you breast feed — it saves money, has more nutrients and can help you get back into shape." The First Lady also handed out greeting cards with an immunization checklist inside.
She explained to the parents the importance of immunization and gave them more advice, such as spreading out the shots and keeping a thorough record so no shot gets overlooked or duplicated. She specifically talked to the new dads as well as the moms, acknowledging the importance fathers have in a child’s life too.
As a mother of four and grandmother of six, Mrs. Deal called on her beliefs and her own experiences to advocate the importance of healthy children. She told stories of cousins and friends affected by diseases that could have been prevented with immunization. She said that healthy babies have a greater chance to grow up and become healthy adults who can then learn more and be strong leaders. Every small effort counts.
As she left the last room on her Immunization Awareness tour, Mrs. Deal told the new parents, “Take care of this little one. I’m proud of you.”
About the Author
Bethany McDaniel is the Editorial Director for GeorgiaGov. She graduated from Berry College in Rome, Ga., with degrees in Visual Communication and History.