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February 1997

National Annual Immunization Goals Met With Record High Immunization Levels

A record percentage of U.S. toddlers have received their recommended baby shots on schedule, according to National Immunization Survey data that show the nation reached its annual immunization coverage level goals for 1995. In addition, survey data show that by the end of 1995 the nation had already exceeded its 1996 infant immunization goals.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that all interim vaccination goals for 1995 were met, including a significant 17 percentage increase in hepatitis B vaccination since the last reporting period, July 1994 to June 1995. Survey data estimated that immunization levels among U.S. preschool children are higher than ever recorded. In addition, the number of reported cases of diphtheria, mumps, tetanus, measles, rubella, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b, the most common cause of meningitis in young children, continue to be at or near record-low levels.

"We must have a firm national commitment to continue to increase the number of American children who are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases and sustain that increase into the future," said Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala. "The national Childhood Immunization Initiative (CII), launched in 1994, is working to decrease disease incidence and increase immunization levels while developing a system to maintain these high levels."

National goals for most of the vaccinations required by 2-year-olds were set as interim steps to reaching the nation's year 2000 immunization goal of vaccinating 90 percent of 2-year-olds with all recommended vaccinations. In 1995, 95 percent of children 19 to 35 months of age had received three doses of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP) vaccine, 92 percent had received three doses of Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (Hib), 90 percent had received the required dose of measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR), 88 percent had received three doses of polio vaccine, and 68 percent received three doses of hepatitis B vaccine (hep B). The 1995 goals were 90 percent for MMR, 87 percent for DTP, 85 percent for polio and Hib, and 50 percent for hep B.


The 1996 immunization goals are 90 percent for DTP, polio, MMR, and Hib, and 70 percent for hep B. Fourth quarter 1995 NIS data estimate that 95 percent of children 19 to 35 months of age had received three doses of DTP, 92 percent had received three doses of Hib, 91 percent had received the required dose of MMR, 90 percent had received three doses of polio vaccine, and 78 percent received three doses of hep B.


The NIS data showed considerable variation between states and urban areas indicating children are not equally well protected in all parts of the United States. Twenty-eight states met either all of the 1995 immunization coverage goals, or all of the goals except hepatitis B.


"Vaccines work --- they are superb, cost-effective tools to prevent disease. However, there is still work to be done to ensure every child in this country gets an equal chance at a healthy life," said CDC Director David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D. "While no single factor accounts for underimmunization, achieving and sustaining high coverage requires action by health-care providers, parents, and communities."

Although interim immunization goals have been met, the NIS data estimates that more than one million children in the United States have not been fully vaccinated with the full series of recommended vaccines. Coverage of the fourth dose of DTP was low in comparison with other vaccines and is the primary reason national series-complete coverage remained unchanged for the 12-month period, at 76 percent. The national year 2000 goal is 90 percent series complete for 2-year-olds.


Through CII, states and cities are gaining access to proven strategies and new technologies that will help reduce underimmunization. Strategies include linking each child to a medical home, developing immunization registries, guaranteeing access to vaccines, and educating providers and parents about the importance of vaccinations.

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