- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.
children are getting vaccinated at record high rates, with 81 percent of
toddlers 19 months to 3 years old receiving the full recommended series,
health officials said on Tuesday.
- This is up from 79.4 percent last year and continues
a steady upward climb, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- "These results ... illustrate the tremendous progress
we've made in preventing what were once common childhood diseases,"
said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding.
- "Most importantly, these results show that parents
have high levels of confidence in our vaccination recommendations."
- U.S. health officials have felt pressure from a few small
but increasingly vocal groups who question the safety of childhood vaccines.
They first tackled the combined measles, mumps and rubella or whooping
cough vaccine, and now blame a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal
once used in vaccines for causing, among other things, autism.
- Numerous official reports have absolved vaccines of causing
damage to young children, but activists have won the backing of some members
- The controversy does not seem to have affected overall
vaccination rates, however.
- "In 2004, coverage for the 4:3:1:3:3 series, which
includes four doses of Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DTaP), three
or more doses of polio vaccine, one or more doses of measles-containing
vaccine, three or more doses of Hib vaccine which can prevent meningitis
and pneumonia, and three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, increased to 80.9
percent, compared to 79.4 percent in 2003," the CDC said.
- Most children are also getting newer vaccines against
chickenpox and pneumococcal disease, the CDC's National Immunization Survey
- More than 87 percent got the varicella vaccine, which
protects against chickenpox, and more than 73 percent got at least three
doses of the new pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against
seven different strains of bacteria that cause pneumonia, ear infections
and other types of infection.
- Dr. Stephen Cochi, acting director of CDC's National
Immunization Program, said some areas of the United States lagged in vaccine
- Only 68.4 percent of children in Nevada and 64.8 percent
in El Paso County, Texas, were fully vaccinated.
- "If we want to prevent the return of diseases that
are currently rare in the United States, we must maintain our high immunization
rates, and work to ensure those rates are high in all states and communities,"
Cochi said in a statement.
- The CDC now also recommends that teens and pre-teens
should be routinely vaccinated against meningitis, and is considering a
recommendation that they get a booster vaccine against whooping cough.
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