Record Child Vaccination Rates Reported
But Official Says CDC Still 'Struggling' With Whooping Cough Cases
July 26, 2005 -- U.S. officials on Tuesday reported record high rates of
childhood vaccinations in 2004, but they continue to struggle with low use of
vaccines by seniors.
Just under 81% of children under 3 years of age received all of the
government-recommended vaccinations last year, the CDC reported. That's an
uptick from the 79.4% who got them in 2003.
Vaccination rates were higher for white children than for minorities.
Eighty-five percent of whites but only 76% of blacks and 81.2% of Hispanics
were fully immunized, according to CDC recommendations.
Officials said they were encouraged by increasing immunization rates among
children. But they acknowledged that they are still seeing high rates of at
least one vaccine-preventable illness.
CDC Director Julie M. Gerberding, MD, called the 2004 vaccination rates
Government recommendations call for 14 shots against nine contagious
diseases -- including measles, mumps, pneumococcal meningitis, and diphtheria
-- when children are between 19 and 35 months of age. Some children also
receive vaccination against influenza.
"We enjoy record low levels of these devastating diseases," said
Stephen L. Cochi, MD, acting director of the CDC's national immunization
Florida led the country with an 89% child vaccination rate, followed by
Connecticut (88%) and Rhode Island (87%). Nevada had the nation's lowest child
vaccine coverage at 68%.
Whooping Cough Still Widespread
Health authorities are "still struggling" with high rates of
pertussis, also known as whooping cough, Cochi said. Nearly 19,000 cases were
reported to the CDC last year, including 15 deaths in infants who most likely
contracted it from infected adolescents or adults.
The FDA earlier this year approved a pair of pertussis booster shots designed to
re-establish immunity in adolescents who were vaccinated as children.
"Nobody got pertussis any more, I thought," said Monika Burke, a
Philadelphia woman who's 16-year-old daughter, Sofie Starcevic, contracted a
serious case of whooping cough last year.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious, potentially serious illness in
adolescents and adults. It can cause prolonged cough and missed days at school
and work. Whooping cough is more frequently severe and can even be fatal in
babies, particularly in infants too young to be fully vaccinated.
Since 1980, the rates of reported whooping cough cases have been increasing in
adolescents and adults, as well as in young infants. Adolescents and
adults can spread whooping cough infection to susceptible young infants and
other family members.
Adult Rates Poor
Experts remain disappointed by poor adult vaccination rates last year.
Less than 70% of U.S. elderly got recommended vaccinations against influenza
last year, far short of 2010 federal goals of 90%. Less than five in 10
African-Americans and 6 in 10 Hispanics over 65 years of age got flu shots.