U.S. Childhood Vaccine Rates Good But Could Be Better: CDC

THURSDAY Aug. 27, 2009 -- More than three-quarters of United States children have received the recommended vaccinations, but greater efforts are needed to reach youngsters who are not fully immunized, a US government report finds.

A 2008 survey of children from 19 months to 35 months of age, born between January 2005 and June 2007, found that 76.1 percent had received the recommended series of vaccines (called the 4:3:1:3:3:1 series), a rate statistically similar to the estimate of 77.4 percent in 2007.

The national goal for coverage is 80 percent.

"Vaccination is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children's health," Dr. Melinda Wharton, deputy director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a CDC news release.

"Thanks to the hard work of doctors and nurses and other immunization providers and the commitment of parents, rates are still high, but we must all continue to work hard to reach those children who are not fully vaccinated," she said.

Vaccines included in the 4:3:1:3:3:1 series are:

  • Four or more doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTaP)
  • Three or more doses of polio vaccine
  • One or more doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR)
  • Three or more doses of Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (Hib)
  • Three or more doses of hepatitis B vaccine
  • One or more doses of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine

The findings of the National Immunization Survey were published Aug. 27 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey found a small decrease in coverage with the Hib vaccine, from 92.6 percent in 2007 to 90 percent in 2008. This was probably because of a shortage of the vaccine that began in 2007 and a temporary recommendation to put off the booster dose. More Hib vaccine is now available, and the CDC again recommends the booster dose at 12 to 15 months of age.

Coverage levels vary from state to state, ranging from 59.2 percent in Montana to 82.3 percent in Massachusetts. While coverage rates among racial and ethnic groups are similar, children living at or above poverty levels were more likely to have had the vaccination series than children living below the poverty level, the survey shows.

Reducing the disparities between geographic areas and income levels remains a priority to fully protect more children, the CDC noted in the news release.

The proportion of children with no vaccinations remained stable at 0.06 percent.

More information

To learn more about childhood immunization, see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Posted: August 2009


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