Sept. 16, 2010 -- Children between 19 and 35 months of age are getting immunized at high rates against diseases that can be prevented by vaccines, the CDC says in a new report.
“Nearly all parents are choosing to have their children protected against dangerous childhood diseases through vaccination,” Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, says in a news release.
The CDC says its latest finding on immunizations is reassuring, especially in light of the fact that in 2008, outbreaks of measles occurred primarily in children whose parents chose not to have their kids vaccinated.
Room for Improvement
Despite the good news, Schuchat says it’s probable that there still are some communities with high numbers of under-vaccinated or unvaccinated children.
In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for Sept. 17, researchers say the CDC’s National Immunization Survey of some 17,000 households asked questions about whether children born between January 2006 and July 2008 were getting recommended vaccines.
The survey found that vaccine coverage against poliovirus, measles, mumps, and rubella, hepatitis B, and chickenpox remained stable and near or above the national recommended goal of 90% or more.
Rates of vaccination for hepatitis A and the birth dose of hepatitis B increased significantly in the period studied, rising by 6% for hepatitis A and 5% for hepatitis B.
CDC Encouraged by Survey Results
“While it’s encouraging to see immunization rates remaining high, we know that parents have questions about vaccines, and we must continue to educate parents about the importance of vaccination to help avoid future resurgences in serious, preventable illnesses,” Schuchat says.
The CDC survey also showed that:
- 44% of kids 19-35 months had received rotavirus vaccine during infancy.
- 83.6% of children in the same age group had received three doses of Haemophilus influenzae B, down by 6.4% from the previous year. The decline reflects a national shortage of that vaccine in 2008 and 2009, but ample supplies are now available.
Vaccination Rates Vary Widely Among States
The survey also looked at state immunization rates for young children and found “substantial variation,” suggesting plenty of room for improvement.
The National Immunization Study conducts quarterly surveys of households, which are followed up by a mail survey of providers of childhood vaccinations, the report says.
Twenty-eight states plus Washington, D.C. had rates for one-dose measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines of 90% or higher, the report says. Two states, Arkansas at 81.8%, and Colorado at 83.6%, had one-dose vaccination below 85%.
Schuchat says parents need to remain vigilant every year about getting immunizations for their kids, and teens and health care workers also need vaccines because “we can never let our guard down.”
The report says the 2009 findings demonstrate the ability of state and local immunization programs to incorporate newly-recommended vaccines while sustaining coverage at or above national target levels for most longer-standing recommended vaccines.