Here’s an encouraging look-back at the first decade of this century. In 2000 the United States set a goal of vaccinating 80% of children in the first 18 months of life with the standard 4:3:1:3:3:1 vaccine series to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type B, and polio. At that time, only 47%-59% of kids were getting all the recommended vaccines (depending on which part of the population you looked at). Each of 12 different subgroups of the population showed disparities in vaccine coverage. Rural kids were less likely than suburban kids to be vaccinated, and black kids were less likely than whites to get protection, for example.
A new study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that most of those disparities disappeared by 2008. Overall, 72%-81% of children got the complete vaccine series. Disparities remained in only 4 of the 12 subgroups. Babies now are getting vaccinated at similar rates no matter what their race or where they live, after accounting for the effects of other factors like poverty. Most groups are getting close to the 80% vaccination goal set by Healthy People 2010.
Some experts who were not associated with the study share some thoughts on how we’ve managed to improve vaccination rates in my story for Elsevier Global Medical News.
The findings also point to the hardest-to-reach babies who still lag behind in vaccination rates — those who have more than one sibling, who live below the poverty level or get care from a public (not private) healthcare provider, and whose mother didn’t finish high school, is unmarried or is less than 30 years old. We’ve still got some work to do.