Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gov. Scott to send new baby congratulations — and vaccine reminders

If you bring someone kicking and screaming into Florida, expect a nice note from Gov. Rick Scott and wife Ann.

"Congratulations on the birth of your new baby!" says a greeting card signed by the Scotts. "As you grow together in family and community, we encourage you to build your baby's healthy imagination through reading and your baby's healthy life through immunizations."

The Governor's Office is teaming up with Hallmark on the card company's For America's Babies program, a partnership with more than two dozen state governors to remind new parents to have their children immunized.

The state leaders send the cards to hospitals, which distribute them to new parents once birth records are completed. The card includes a detachable growth chart and an immunization schedule reflecting the most recent vaccine recommendations for young children by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Florida, the Department of Health will soon ship three-month supplies of the cards to hospitals. The cards are printed in English and Spanish.

The state is budgeting up to $10,000 for distribution, said spokeswoman Hue T. Reynolds. Hallmark pays for the printing.

"We thought this was a nice opportunity to get in front of parents," said Reynolds.

In 2011, more than 213,200 live births were reported in Florida. Reynolds said it's unclear how long the program will last.

At St. Joseph's Women's Hospital in Tampa, which delivers about 7,000 babies a year, staffers just received the letter announcing the program and are planning how to carry it out, said spokeswoman Lisa Patterson.

Vaccinations protect children from a variety of serious diseases, including diphtheria, measles, meningitis, polio, tetanus and whooping cough. Some parents still are wary of the shots, though their safety and effectiveness are well documented. Others want to vary the recommended vaccination schedule, though there is no evidence that it is better to delay inoculations.

Compared with other states, Florida children rank high in vaccine rates, according to the Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit public health organization.

Florida was ranked second in 2010 in the percentage of children ages 19 to 35 months up-to-date on immunizations, about 80 percent, according to the group.

Even more children at Head Start facilities — 97 percent of those ages 19 months and up — are fully immunized, according to a state survey of 119 locations last year.

Richard Hamburg, deputy director of the Trust for America's Health, cites misinformation, lack of education and poverty as the reasons even more children are not fully immunized.

"The problem is that we've seen some outbreaks of infectious diseases we thought we would no longer see. Whooping cough is one," he said. "It's kind of a crying shame when you're able to prevent or eradicate diseases, and that's not happening."

He said the new federal health law should help by eliminating insurance copays on vaccinations. He hadn't heard about the Hallmark partnership with governors but said it sounds helpful.

"That sounds like a way to communicate both at the right time and with the right messenger," he said.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected]

Gov. Scott to send new baby congratulations — and vaccine reminders 01/24/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 12:14am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Another suspicious death in Tampa's Seminole Heights


    TAMPA — Police are investigating a suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights, near the location of two shooting deaths last week.

  2. Duke tops preseason coaches' basketball poll; Gators No. 7


    Duke has been tabbed the preseason No. 1 for the second straight season in the coaches' basketball poll, released Thursday.

    Florida point guard Chris Chiozza launches the shot of last season’s NCAA Tournament, a winning 3
against Wisconsin that put the Gators into the Elite Eight. Chiozza returns to lead a UF team that’s getting its share of preseason attention, including a No. 7 ranking in the coaches’ poll.
  3. Richard Spencer speaks, and Gainesville emerges weary but at peace


    GAINESVILLE — Fists raised, a sea of defiant student protesters at the University of Florida relentlessly shouted down the white nationalist on stage. Richard Spencer paced, irritated, clinging to his chance to talk.

    Protesters scream at supporters of Richard Spencer after his speech at the Phillips Center at the University of Florida.  [Thursday October 19, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  4. Pentagon investigating troubling questions after deadly Niger ambush


    WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, troubled by a lack of information two weeks after an ambush on a special operations patrol in Niger left four U.S. soldiers dead, is demanding a timeline of what is known about the attack, as a team of investigators sent to West Africa begins its work.

  5. In the military, trusted officers became alleged assailants in sex crimes


    The Army is grappling with a resurgence of cases in which troops responsible for preventing sexual assault have been accused of rape and related crimes, undercutting the Pentagon's claims that it is making progress against sexual violence in the ranks.