Racial Disparities in Childhood Immunization Coverage Rates Closing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that 2005 childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children between 19 and 35 months of age remain at or near record highs. For the first time in the past ten years, rates for the full series of recommended vaccines did not vary significantly by race and ethnicity.

According to CDC’s annual National Immunization Surve (NIS) released today, estimated immunization coverage rates for the 4:3:1:3:3:1 series ranged from 79.5 percent for children of multiple race, 77.1 percent for Asian; 76.3 percent for black; 76 percent for white, and 75.6 percent for Hispanic children. Coverage for the previous series that excluded varicella vaccine (4:3:1:3:3) was 10 percent lower for black children in 2002, compared to 3 percent in 2005. For Hispanic children coverage for the 4:3:1:3:3 series was 7.5 percent lower in 2000, compared to 3 percent in 2005. The 4:3:1:3:3:1 series includes four doses of Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DTaP), three doses of polio vaccine, one dose of measles-containing vaccine, three doses of Hib vaccine, three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, and one dose of varicella vaccine.

“These results are terrific news, especially since there are virtually no differences with respect to race and ethnicity for this series of vaccines,” said Anne Schuchat, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). “We’ve been working hard, with many partners, to ensure that all children have access to recommended vaccines, and these results show we’ve made significant progress.

The federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program has helped to substantially reduce the immunization disparity gap and contributed to the relatively high coverage levels,” according to Schuchat. “Strong efforts to promote childhood immunizations are being made on local, state and national levels, but we need to maintain our vigilance.”

In addition to VFC, which provides free vaccines for uninsured and underinsured children, CDC has worked with its partners to develop and provide education programs and media campaigns for Spanish-speaking and black parents. Since 1994, CDC has created an annual Spanish-language national public service campaign with advertising for radio and television broadcast and newspaper and magazine placement, as well as posters, brochures and education kits for distribution through health clinics and community based organizations.

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