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Immunization Rates High for U.S. Kids

There's Still Room for Improvement, Especially for Teens, Says CDC
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 30, 2007 -- The CDC today reported that U.S. immunization rates for young kids remain at or above record highs, but teens need to get up to speed on their vaccinations.

"We're doing well in the childhood program but we've still got a ways to go with adolescents," Melinda Wharton, MD, MPH, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, said at a news conference.

The CDC's latest immunization statistics report covers 2006 vaccinations for kids aged 19-35 months and teens aged 13-17.

The report shows that in 2006, more than three-quarters -- 77% -- of U.S. children aged 19-35 months in 2006 got all of the recommended doses of six childhood vaccines that target 10 diseases.

Those children got four doses of the diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine; three doses of the polio vaccine; one or more doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine; three doses of the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine; three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine; and one or more doses of the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.

Kids' Immunization Rates Steady

The percentage of children aged 19-35 months who got all recommended doses of those six vaccines is similar to the 2005 percentage.

But that percentage is still below the government's 2010 goal to have at least 90% of U.S. kids in that group get all recommended doses of their vaccines.

Children's immunization rates varied among states. Here are the top five states, along with the percentage of children aged 19-35 months who got all recommended doses of their vaccines:

  1. Massachusetts: 83.6%
  2. Connecticut: 82%
  3. North Carolina: 81.5%
  4. Georgia: 81.4%
  5. Pennsylvania: 80.8%

The five states at the bottom of the immunization list are:

  1. West Virginia: 68.4%
  2. Alaska: 67.3%
  3. Montana: 65.6%
  4. Wyoming: 63.5%
  5. Nebraska: 59.5%

Among children aged 19-35 months, nearly 78% of whites had gotten the complete vaccination series, compared with about 74% of African-American children. That gap is tied to socioeconomic status, says Wharton.

The figures are based on nationwide telephone interviews with the parents of more than 21,000 U.S. children aged 19-35 months.

Teen Vaccines

For the first time, the CDC also interviewed the parents of more than 2,800 teens aged 13-17. Those interviews show that some teens aren't up to date on their vaccinations.

For instance, the government wants at least 90% of teens aged 13-15 to get the recommended doses of the hepatitis B vaccine and the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

In 2006, between 84% and 88% of teens in that age range had gotten the recommended doses of those vaccines.

But teens were especially behind on newer vaccines. For instance, only about 12% of 13-17-year-olds had received the new meningococcal conjugate vaccine and only about 11% had gotten the combined tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough vaccine.

The CDC's immunization figures appear in tomorrow's edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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