CDC: U.S. infant vaccination rates high yet unvaccinated remain vulnerable

WASHINGTON — The vast majority of parents are making sure that their children get vaccinated against potentially serious diseases, according to data from CDC’s "2013 National Immunization Survey (NIS) – Children (19-35 months)" recently published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. However, while vaccination coverage increased or remained stable for all routinely recommended childhood vaccines in 2013, coverage varied by state, and low coverage levels can leave states and communities vulnerable to outbreaks of potentially serious vaccine preventable diseases.

In 2013, vaccination coverage increased or remained stable for all routinely recommended childhood vaccines. Vaccination coverage remained more than 90% for the vaccines that prevent measles, mumps, and rubella; poliovirus; hepatitis B; and varicella. And it increased slightly for rotavirus vaccine, from 69% in 2012 to 73% in 2013, and for one or more doses of hepatitis A vaccine, from 82% in 2012 to 83% in 2013. Administration of the birth dose of hepatitis B rose from 72% to 74%.  The percentage of children who received no vaccines remained low, at less than 1% of children in 2013.

“I want to personally recognize the hard work of doctors and nurses coping with many challenges in the course of clinical work, and commend parents who, despite competing responsibilities, continue to prioritize immunization to keep their children healthy and safe,” stated Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “These people are central in keeping young children healthy by ensuring they receive the recommended vaccines on schedule.”

While overall immunization rates remain high, state immunization programs, clinicians, and parents are still challenged in getting all the recommended doses during the second year of life, according to the report. There are three vaccine series that include a booster dose in the second year of life: the vaccines that prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP); Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib); and Pneumococcal disease (PCV).  Coverage of these boosters remained at similar levels in 2012 and 2013. 

There was lower coverage for these booster doses among children living in poverty, compared with children living at or above the poverty line. These children also had lower coverage with the vaccines for poliovirus, rotavirus, and the hepatitis B series.  In addition to the booster doses, coverage was lower for black children compared with white children for the vaccine that protects against rotavirus.

Immunization coverage also varied by state, both for individual vaccines and for the series measure, which provides a shorthand assessment of overall performance by looking at the completion of immunizations against 11 different diseases (four doses of DTaP, three doses of poliovirus vaccine, one dose of measles-containing vaccine, full series of Hib vaccine, three doses of Hep B vaccine, one dose of varicella vaccine, and four doses of PCV). In that series measure, the range was from 82% in Rhode Island to 57% in Arkansas. The most critical coverage variation was the 17 states that had less than 90% coverage with the MMR vaccine.

National coverage of children 19 months to 35 months old with at least one dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is 92%.  While seemingly high, 1-out-of-12 children did not receive their first dose of MMR vaccine on time, underscoring a sizeable proportion of children that remain susceptible, the report stated. As of Aug. 22, 592 measles cases had been preliminarily reported in the United States, the most cases of any year since 1994. Measles is most frequently brought to the United States by unvaccinated U.S. travelers returning from abroad, and it can spread quickly in communities with groups of unvaccinated and under-vaccinated people.


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