CDC To Focus on Teens in Vaccine Survey
CDC officials have decided that they will collect data on whether teenagers, rather than infants and young children, receive recommended vaccinations as part of the National Immunization Survey, a decision that has prompted criticism from some local health officials, the Washington Post reports. Since 1994, CDC has allocated funds to "over sample" a list of 22 large cities -- such as Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans -- that had low vaccination rates or were the sites of measles outbreaks between 1989 and 1991.
CDC decided to focus on teens, rather than young children, because of the increased number of vaccines recommended for that age group. Under recently approved CDC guidelines, teen girls should receive the new vaccine for human papillomavirus; college freshmen should receive the meningococcal meningitis vaccine; and most teens should receive boosters for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, as well as the chickenpox vaccine.
Lance Rodewald, director of the CDC immunization services division, said, "It was really a very, very difficult decision. But we think we have to have information about adolescents because it is such a growth area."
Six of the 22 cities -- Chicago, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Washington, D.C. -- will continue to receive the data on whether young children receive recommended vaccinations through a special grant.
According to some local health officials, the data collected on young children is important to their efforts to ensure that children, many from low-income families, receive recommended vaccinations.
In a letter to CDC Director Julie Gerberding, Baltimore Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, wrote, "Without the survey, Baltimore will lose the best way to measure our continued progress and will have trouble quickly recognizing declining immunization levels."
Jeffrey Duchin, chief of the communicable disease section of the public health department in Seattle, said, "Unfortunately, we are going backward here," adding, "At a time when we need more information, we are getting less about what is happening in little kids" (Brown, Washington Post, 11/1).