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CDC: Immunization Rates Reach High

September 24, 1999

ATLANTA (AP) _ While national immunization rates among toddlers have hit all-time highs, federal health officials are still worried about the 20 percent who aren’t getting all their shots.

According to figures released Thursday by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80.6 percent of children 19 months to 35 months old had the complete series of recommended vaccinations for diphtheria/tetanus, polio and measles in 1998.

The diphtheria/tetanus vaccine is given in four shots, while polio vaccine is administered in three doses.

``It’s an education problem,″ said Dr. Walter A. Orenstein, director of the CDC’s National Immunization Program. ``Between state and federal programs, the vaccines are out there, but there is a lot to be done in keeping track of kids’ vaccine schedules and just getting the kids there.″

The immunization rate has been steadily climbing since 1995, when it was 76.2 percent, according to the CDC.

``Thanks in large part to these high immunization rates, we have seen a breathtaking decline in suffering and death from most vaccine-preventable diseases,″ Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala said. ``This new report serves as a reminder that vaccines work; they are cost-effective tools to prevent disease.″

In addition, vaccination rates for diptheria/tetanus, polio, measles, hepatitis, and varicella all rose separately in 1998, the year covered by the study. Diptheria/tetanus remained the highest, with 95.6 percent of toddlers receiving three doses of the vaccine.

All 50 states achieved 90 percent immunization coverage for three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: State-by-state immunization rates are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.cdc.gov/nip.

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