Nation’s Childhood Immunization Rates Remain at or above Record Levels:
Rates for Chickenpox Immunization Improve Dramatically in Vermont
For Immediate Release: August 30, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
BURLINGTON – The nation’s childhood immunization rates remain at or near record levels for routinely recommended vaccines, according to 2006 estimates released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the CDC’s annual National Immunization Survey (NIS), 77 percent of U.S. children age 19 to 35 months had the recommended series of childhood vaccines in 2006. This is statistically similar to 76 percent in 2005.
However, Vermont saw statistically significant increased rates, attributed to a 12 point increase in the coverage rate for the varicella, or chickenpox, vaccine.
“This increase in the coverage rates for the chickenpox vaccine is great news and shows that more and more children are getting protected against this disease,” said Cort Lohff, MD, state epidemiologist for the Vermont Department of Health.
The Health Department credits the increase to health care providers and parents who are more accepting of the vaccine, more health care provider offices that are now able to store this vaccine, and a push over the past year by the Health Department's Immunization Program and a number of other partners to encourage the use of this vaccine.
Despite the increase, approximately 20 percent of Vermont children still are not immunized against chickenpox. The Health Department has proposed new rules to require two doses of the chickenpox vaccine prior to school entry. Should these rules pass, they will take effect with the 2008/2009 school year. The Health Department is inviting public comment on the proposed new rules through September 14, 2007. Proposed changes, information about immunizations and a web comment form can be found at http://healthvermont.gov and then click on “For Public Comment.”
For the first time ever, the CDC survey included estimates of the percentage of 13- to 17-year-old children who have received the recommended series of vaccines for their age group. In Vermont and nationally, the percentage of adolescents who had received recommended vaccines varied by both vaccine and age, but generally falls short of national goals.