The U.S. is doing pretty well when it comes to vaccinating its young, say federal health officials in a new report.
In the September 7 edition of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said vaccination rates among kids between 19 and 35 months either remained stable or increased compared to 2010 for all recommended vaccines, which include shots to protect against hepatitis B, the flu, measles, chickenpox, tetanus and polio.
Coverage also increased for the vaccines that were more recently recommended, which include hepatitis A and rotavirus.
"Most vaccine-preventable diseases have declined to historically low levels in the United States as a result of high vaccination coverage among preschool-aged children," wrote the CDC.
But the agency noted that coverage for certain vaccines – including those for diphtheria, pneumococcus and rotavirus – "differs by poverty level." That's despite a federally-funded program that provides free vaccines to kids whose families otherwise might not be able to afford them.
Vaccine coverage by state also varies. The CDC writes that while coverage for many vaccines "remains high nationally," there are still "clusters of unvaccinated children in geographically localized areas," which leaves certain communities vulnerable to outbreaks of disease.
– 91 percent of kids have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella.
– Nearly 88 percent have gotten at least four doses of the diphtheria vaccine.
– Around 58 percent got their hepatitis B shot at birth.
– Nearly 60 percent got at least two doses of the hepatitis A shot.
– About 70 percent got a rotavirus vaccine.
Some groups and personalities have been vocal in their anti-vaccine stance, including Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.. The nephew of the former U.S. president of the same name famously wrote an article in 2005 that asserted autism is linked to childhood vaccines, despite the failure of numerous studies to find evidence of that link. The Los Angeles Times reports that article has since been taken down from the websites of Salon. The article is apparently still available to Rolling Stone subscribers.
The CDC, for its part, dismisses those notions, arguing that vaccinations are not only safe but a responsible choice.
In a recent interview with OnCentral, Dr. Margaret Khoury of Kaiser Permanente encouraged folks to get flu vaccines.
"Everyone should be vaccinated starting at age six months," the pediatric infectious disease specialist said. "We as a society should be taking care of each other."
The CDC seems to agree with that sentiment.
"Careful monitoring of coverage levels overall and in subpopulations…is important to ensure that all children remain adequately protected," it wrote in its September 7 report.
You can read the full report here.
Photo by Steven Depolo via Flickr Creative Commons.