Nation's Childhood Immunization Rates Remain at or above record levels

Center for Disease Control, Sep 07, 2007

The nation's childhood immunization rates remain at or near record levels for routinely recommended vaccines, according to 2006 estimates released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This continues the trend of more children being protected against vaccine-preventable diseases each year.

According to the CDC's annual National Immunization Survey (NIS), the percentage of U.S. children 19 to 35 months of age who have received the recommended series of childhood vaccines was 77 percent in 2006, statistically similar to the 76.1 percent in 2005.

The recommended series consists of four doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine, three doses of polio vaccine, one or more doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, three doses of Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (Hib), three doses of hepatitis B vaccine and one or more doses of varicella or chickenpox vaccine. This set of immunizations begins shortly after a child is born and continues up to two years of age.

“This is extremely good news,” said Dr. Melinda Wharton, deputy director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “We are continuing to protect more young children and adolescents than ever before from vaccine-preventable diseases that can cause serious illness or death, and for which we often have no effective medical treatments.”

The 2006, NIS documented actual increases in the percentage of 19- to-35 month-old children who had received recommended vaccinations for pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, varicella (chicken pox) vaccine and polio vaccine compared to 2005. The percentage of children receiving pneumococcal conjugate vaccine increased from 82.8 percent to 87 percent for three doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and from 53.7 percent to 68.4 percent for four doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Varicella vaccine coverage increased from 87.9 percent in 2005 to 89.3 percent in 2006, and poliovirus vaccine coverage increased from 91.7 percent to 92.9 percent during the same time period.

As in previous years, there were substantial state and local differences in the percentages of children who received recommended vaccinations as well as in the percentage who had received all of the recommended vaccine series. Estimates of the percentage of children who had received all their vaccinations ranged from 83.6 percent in Massachusetts to 59.5 percent in Nevada. Among local areas, series coverage ranged from 81.4 percent in Boston, Massachusetts to 65.2 percent in Detroit, Michigan.

The NIS data also suggested that there continue to be small racial/ethnic differences in the percentage of 19- to-35-month-old children receiving the recommended vaccination series. Children who live below the poverty level are less likely to be vaccinated than children who live at or above the poverty level. Because a substantial percentage of black children lived below the poverty level, coverage for black children overall was low compared with white children. Therefore, even though the 2006 survey found that black, non-Hispanic children had lower vaccination rates than white, non-Hispanic children for the series of routine vaccines, at the difference was likely related to socioeconomic status and household income rather than race.

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