IMMUNIZATION: Vaccination Rate Reaches Highest Levels
The immunization rate for toddlers ages 19 months to 35 months reached an all-time high of 80.6% last year, according to this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from CDC. The rate -- the percentage of toddlers who complete the series of recommended vaccinations for diphtheria/tetnaus, polio and measles -- has been on the rise since 1995 (AP/New York Times, 9/24). In an effort to increase vaccination levels among children under age two to 90% by 1996, the Clinton Administration established the Childhood Immunization Initiative in 1993. With the exception of the hepatitis B vaccine, the 90% goals were achieved for children in public and private organizations and health care providers at the national, state and local levels (MMWR, 9/24). HHS Secretary Donna Shalala said, "Thanks in large part to these high immunization rates, we have seen a breathtaking decline in suffering and death from most vaccine-preventable diseases. This new report serves as reminder that vaccines work -- they are cost-effective tools to prevent disease." CDC Director Dr. Jeffery Koplan said, "We are very pleased with our progress, but the data also shows there are still many children who are not adequately immunized and as a result, may suffer from diseases that are easily preventable." Shalala added that the new task will be to "reach the millions of children who still remain unvaccinated and at risk" (HHS release, 9/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.