Child vaccination rates hit record levels

WASHINGTON Fri Sep 5, 2008 2:07am EDT

Katy Masden, six months (C) gets a flu shot from Ellie Duke, public health nurse for Larimer County (L) while sitting on her mother Dana's lap at a clinic in Loveland, Colorado December 12, 2003 while her sister Shelby watches. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Katy Masden, six months (C) gets a flu shot from Ellie Duke, public health nurse for Larimer County (L) while sitting on her mother Dana's lap at a clinic in Loveland, Colorado December 12, 2003 while her sister Shelby watches.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. toddlers got the recommended vaccinations against childhood diseases at record levels in 2007, federal health officials said on Thursday, as they urged parents to continue to trust vaccine safety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its report on vaccination rates for ages 1-1/2 through 3 years just a day after another study came out showing no link between autism and the vaccine given to guard against measles, mumps and rubella.

A record 77.4 percent of children in this age group received the full recommended series of vaccinations, the CDC said. Ninety percent of children got all but one of the six individual vaccines in the series, the CDC said.

The one exception was the four doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis or whooping cough vaccine, received by 84.5 percent of toddlers, the CDC said.

The CDC report, based on data on 17,017 children, found that fewer than 1 percent got no vaccines.

The immunization program's success hinges on parents' trust in vaccine safety, CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said.

Public health officials have expressed concern in recent years that some parents fearful about vaccine safety were declining to get their children vaccinated, making them more apt to catch and spread preventable diseases.

"We really recognize that ultimately our program is dependent on trust -- trust of moms and dads, trust of caretakers and trust of the clinicians, pediatricians (and) family practice professionals who take care of our children," Gerberding told reporters in a conference call.

CDC officials have blamed this year's largest U.S. outbreak of measles since 1997, with 135 people sickened, on lack of vaccination often due to "personal or parental beliefs."

Childhood vaccinations save an estimated 33,000 lives per year in the United States, the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat said.

Coverage with the full vaccine series ranged among states from 91 percent in Maryland to 63 percent in Nevada.

The recommended series tracked in the report was: four doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine; three doses of polio vaccine; one or more doses of measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) vaccine; three doses of Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (Hib); three doses of hepatitis B vaccine; and one or more doses of chickenpox vaccine.

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