September 6, 2011
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IMMUNIZATION RATES IMPROVE IN VIRGINIA
More children protected against vaccine-preventable diseases
(Richmond, VA) As summer comes to a close and a new school year begins, parents have been busy ensuring their children have all the vaccines they need for the first day of school. New state-by-state survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that due to parents’ and providers’ efforts, immunization rates for children and adolescents in Virginia have significantly improved for most vaccines.
The 2010 National Immunization Survey shows an increase of 9 percentage points in the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccination rate in 2010 compared to 2009 for children aged 19 to 35 months of age. Other significant improvements include a 21 percentage point increase in vaccination rates for Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b), a 12 percentage point increase for hepatitis A vaccination, and a 14 percentage point increase in rotavirus vaccination rates for this age group. Likewise, teen vaccination rates for Tdap have increased 13 percentage points, and rates for the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) have gone up by 17 percentage points.
“Improvements in our immunization coverage rates show that clinicians are talking to parents about protecting their children through vaccination,” said State Health Commissioner Karen Remley, MD, MPH, FAAP. “It is critical that we keep working hard so that all children will be vaccinated on schedule and complete all series of vaccinations, in order to be fully protected. The Department of Health works with parents, providers, community partners, and others to ensure children and teens have access to vaccine.”
Although Virginia has shown improvement in coverage for most vaccines, improvement still needs to be made to increase the percent of young children who complete their series on time. Missing or delaying even one dose leaves a child vulnerable to disease. Parents who have questions about immunizations should talk with their health care provider.
“A recent report from the Institute of Medicine supports the overwhelming safety of vaccines,” said Remley. “The findings should be reassuring to parents that complications are rare and few health problems are connected to immunizations. Vaccines do save lives.”
Serious vaccine-preventable illnesses like pertussis, rubella and measles still occur in Virginia, reinforcing the need to keep children on schedule and to assure that booster shots are given to adolescents and adults. Booster shots, such as the Tdap, assure that parents, siblings, caregivers and health care providers remain fully immunized and protect children too young to be fully immunized.
Parents can have their children vaccinated at their local health department or by their health care provider. For more information on vaccine-preventable disease and vaccine safety, visit: www.vdh.virginia.gov.