National survey shows more young children getting vaccines

ATLANTA Thu Sep 1, 2011 3:19pm EDT

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - Despite some public concerns about vaccine safety, more young children are getting immunized in the United States for preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis A, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.

The percentage of children ages 19 to 35 months who received one or more doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine increased to 91.5 percent from 90 percent in 2010 over the previous year, the CDC said.

Rotavirus vaccinations jumped to 59.2 percent from 43.9 percent, according to the CDC's National Immunization Survey of more than 17,000 households. The survey looked at children born between January 2007 and July 2009.

The percentage of children who received the full series of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine rose to 66.8 percent from 54.8 percent. Hib disease was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis among U.S. children under 5 before the vaccine.

"During 2010, national coverage with all recommended vaccines increased or remained stable compared with 2009," the report said.

Less than one percent of toddlers had received no vaccinations, the survey found.

"Today's report is reassuring because it means that most parents are protecting their young children from diseases that can cause widespread and sometimes severe harm," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

"We recommend vaccinations because they are one of the most effective, safest ways to keep children healthy."

Fears that vaccines might cause autism or other health problems have led some parents to skip vaccinating their children, despite repeated reassurances from health authorities. The concerns have also forced costly reformulations of many vaccines.

In late August, a federal panel of experts concluded that vaccines cause very few side effects and found no evidence that they cause autism or type 1 diabetes.

The CDC survey released on Thursday found no disparities in immunization rates by race for most vaccines, but children living below the poverty line had lower vaccinations rates for some diseases than other children.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Johnston)

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