Despite Vaccine Controversy, Immunization Rates Remain High Among Young Children

Vast majority of parents are opting for their young children to receive potentially lifesaving vaccines despite the controversy surrounding their right to refuse such immunizations.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported that the vast majority of parents are opting for their young children to receive potentially lifesaving vaccines despite the controversy surrounding their right to refuse such immunizations.

Data from the CDC’s “2013 National Immunization Survey (NIS) — Children (19-35 Months)” published in the most recent edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows immunization rates have remained stable for all recommended vaccines throughout 2013, with 92% of children aged 19 to 35 months having received at least 1 dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine last year. However, 1 in 12 children did not receive their first dose of the vaccine on time, “underscoring a sizeable proportion of children that remain susceptible,” the report noted.

Although immunization coverage varied by state, it held above 90% for vaccines that prevent MMR, poliovirus, hepatitis B, and varicella. Furthermore, the overall immunization rate for the rotavirus vaccine increased from 69% in 2012 to 73% in 2013. There was also a slight jump in the rates for 1 or more doses of hepatitis A vaccine from 82% in 2012 to 83% 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,” said Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a press release. “These people are central in keeping young children healthy by ensuring they receive the recommended vaccines on schedule.”

The CDC found lower immunization coverage in areas where children live below the poverty line, which it said might be linked to a family’s inability to pay for adequate health care and vaccinations. As a result, the CDC is recommending that parents turn to the Vaccines for Children program if they are uninsured or unable to pay for boosters.