(Allentown, PA) Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15) hosted a public forum on the importance of immunizations Tuesday, August 9th at Lehigh Valley Hospital - Cedar Crest. The event lasted from 6:30PM to 8PM, and representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Allentown Health Bureau, and Lehigh Valley Health Network spoke on various issues and answered questions from almost 50 peole from the community who attended.

"Immunizations, or the lack thereof, have been in the news frequently due to outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases. Many of these outbreaks have been attributed to fewer people vaccinating their children due to fears of autism or other harmful side effects. With the event tonight, I hope we can counter false conclusions like this one, and instead provide factual information about vaccines as well as available resources in the community for further education," said Representative Dent. "I have long worked to promote public awareness about the importance of vaccines in preventing diseases and cosponsored, along with more than 100 other members, a House Resolution which would recognize the importance of vaccines in our country."

August is recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a publication available on their website entitled Parents' Guide to Childhood Immunizations. This book can be wholly accessed online, and it includes information such as diseases that are preventable by vaccinations, how vaccinations work, and a timeline for what ages a child should be vaccinated.

"As we near the beginning of the school year, it is a good reminder that all parents should ensure their children are up-to-date on their vaccinations. It was a pleasure to host this community forum on the importance of immunizations and hear directly from the experts that immunizations are critical in protecting your family and the community from a number of very preventable diseases," concluded Dent.

Panelists included:

* Dr. Tibisay Villalobos-Fry, Pediatric Infectious Disease, Lehigh Valley Health Network

* Dr. Elaine Donoghue, Vice Chair - Department of Pediatrics - Education, Lehigh Valley Health Network

* Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, PA Department of Health

* Sheri Deeb, Supervisor of School Health Services and Wellness, Parkland School District

* Vicky Kistler, Director of Health, City of Allentown

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CONTACT: Emily Rauch (202) 225-6411