HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Vaccinations of Toddlers Set a Record

The New York Times reports that federal health officials are urging parents to trust vaccine safety as last year's numbers of vaccinations set record levels.  The New York Times writes,

Measles_vaccineToddlers received the recommended vaccinations against childhood diseases at record levels in 2007, federal health officials said on Thursday, as they urged parents to continue to trust vaccine safety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its report on vaccination rates for children ages 1 1/2 through 3 a day after another study came out showing no link between autism and the vaccine given to guard against measles, mumps and rubella.

A record 77.4 percent of children in this age group received the full recommended series of vaccinations, the centers said.

Ninety percent of children got all but one of the six individual vaccines in the series, it said.

The one exception was the four doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis or whooping cough vaccine, received by 84.5 percent of toddlers, the centers said.

The report, based on data on 17,017 children, found that less than 1 percent were given no vaccines.

The immunization program’s success hinges on parents’ trust in vaccine safety, the centers’ director, Dr. Julie Gerberding, said.

Public health officials have expressed concern in recent years that some parents fearful about vaccine safety were declining to get their children vaccinated, making them more likely to catch and spread preventable diseases.

“We really recognize that ultimately our program is dependent on trust — trust of moms and dads, trust of caretakers and trust of the clinicians, pediatricians, family practice professionals who take care of our children,” Dr. Gerberding told reporters in a conference call.

Officials at the centers have attributed this year’s largest American outbreak of measles since 1997, with 135 people sickened, to lack of vaccination often due to “personal or parental beliefs.”

Childhood vaccinations save an estimated 33,000 lives a year in the United States, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, of the C.D.C.

Coverage with the full vaccine series ranged from 91 percent in Maryland to 63 percent in Nevada.

The recommended series tracked in the report was four doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine; three doses of polio vaccine; one or more doses of measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) vaccine; three doses of haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine (Hib); three doses of hepatitis B vaccine; and one or more doses of chickenpox vaccine.

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