The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced that the nation's childhood immunization rates are at record high levels, including significant increases in rates of immunization for chickenpox and pneumococcal pneumonia, the two most recent additions to the childhood immunization schedule.
National coverage with chickenpox vaccine increased from 80.6 percent in 2002 to 84.8 percent in 2003. Coverage for three or more doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine increased from 40.9 percent in 2002 to 68.1 percent in 2003. Coverage for four or more doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, reported for the first time this year, was 36.7 percent. Coverage for all other childhood vaccines and series, increased significantly in 2003 compared with 2002.
The findings were reported today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at a news conference sponsored by The National Partnership for Immunization (NPI) to kick off August as National Immunization Awareness Month.
"We need to thank everyone who has helped put childhood vaccination rates at an all-time high -- and then we all need to get back to work and help make this rate go even higher," HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. "Childhood vaccination is a key element of equal opportunity for Americans, and we need to reach all children and protect them."
In 2003, coverage for the 4:3:1:3:3 series, which includes four doses of Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis, (DTaP), three doses of polio vaccine, one dose of measles-containing vaccine, three doses of Hib vaccine, and three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, increased to 79.4 percent, compared to 74.8 percent in 2002 and 73.7 percent in 2001 and 72.9 percent in 2000.
In 2003, as in previous years, urban areas reported lower immunization rates than states mostly due to large concentrations of lower socio-economically displaced persons. Among the 28 urban areas, the highest estimated coverage for the 4:3:1:3:3 series was 88.8 percent in Boston, Massachusetts, and the lowest was 69.2 percent in Houston, Texas. The estimated coverage with the 4:3:1:3:3 series ranged from 94.0 percent in Connecticut to 67.5 percent in Colorado.
"A substantial number of children in the United States still aren't adequately protected from vaccine-preventable diseases," said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. "The suffering or death of even one individual from a vaccine-preventable disease is an unnecessary human tragedy. Let us renew our efforts during National Immunization Awareness Month to ensure that no child, adolescent or adult will have to needlessly suffer from a vaccine-preventable disease."
The National Immunization Survey (NIS) provides estimates of vaccination coverage among children ages 19-35 months for each of the 50 states and 28 selected urban areas. CDC uses a quarterly random-digit-dialing sample of telephone numbers for each of the 78 survey areas to collect vaccination data for all age-eligible children. In 2003, vaccination data were obtained for 21,210 children.
The complete 2003 National Immunization Survey data will be released with the CDC's Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) at the following Web address: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5329a3.htm.