Childhood Vaccination Rates Remain Above 90%

A national survey shows more children are being vaccinated, but some communities still show room for improvement.

Children aged 19 to 35 months are being immunized at higher rates, according to the results of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2009 National Immunization Survey. Rates for routine vaccinations were over 90%, and less than 1% of children were not vaccinated at all, the CDC reported.

“Nearly all parents are choosing to have their children protected against dangerous childhood diseases through vaccination,” said Ann Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The survey included provider-reported data on more than 17,000 households with children born between January 2006 and July 2008. Vaccination rates for poliovirus; measles, mumps, and rubella; varicella, or chicken pox; and hepatitis B remained constant at approximately 90% or higher.

The results also showed increases of more than 6% in vaccinations for hepatitis A and 5% in the birth dose of hepatitis B. The rotavirus vaccine during infancy, first licensed in 2006, was received by 44% of children aged 19 to 35 months.

Immunization against these diseases is one of the few areas in which current statistics measure up to goals set by the government’s Healthy People 2010 initiative. Despite this achievement, there is room for improvement, Dr. Schuchat noted.

A shortage of the vaccine for Haemophilus influenzae B in 2008 and 2009 resulted in a 6.4% decline in vaccinations against the bacterial illness. In 2008, an outbreak of measles was prevalent in children whose parents did not have their children vaccinated.

State-by-state variation also indicated regional factors may impact parents’ willingness or ability to vaccinate children. Dr. Schuchat believes that communities with high numbers of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children still remain.

“While it’s encouraging to see immunization rates remaining high, we know that parents have questions about vaccines and must continue to educate parents about the importance of vaccination to help avoid future resurgences in serious, preventable illnesses,” she said.

Pharmacists can contribute to this effort by sharing the survey with patients and their families and addressing any questions or concerns parents have about the safety and effectiveness of childhood vaccines.

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