For the past 30 years, Healthy People has been committed to improving the quality of our Nation’s health by producing a framework for public health prevention priorities and actions. In just the last decade, preliminary analyses indicate that the country has either progressed toward or met 71 percent of its Healthy People targets. However, vaccination rates across the country have failed to meet established goals and, with recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, are causing concern.
The goal regarding immunizations is to increase immunization rates and reduce preventable infectious diseases. Their stated belief is that vaccines are among the most cost-effective clinical preventive services and are a core component of any preventive services. Childhood immunization programs provide a very high return on investment. Despite progress and accessibility to vaccinations, approximately 42,000 adults and 300 children in the United States die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.
A study released late last week ranked, for the first time, immunization rates by state. During the 2009-10 school year, the goal was a 95 percent vaccination rate, but the actual rate was 5 percent lower. Forty-seven U.S. states reported at least a 90 percent vaccination rate for poliovirus, diphtheria/tentanus/pertusis, hepatitis B, and measles/mumps/rubella, as well as one to two doses of the chicken pox vaccine.
Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said, "Most of today's parents weren't around to see how bad diseases like measles and whooping cough were before vaccines helped bring them under control. We've done a good job fending off those diseases with vaccines, but we can't be complacent; we're seeing them start to make a comeback and too many of our kids are vulnerable."
The development and use of vaccines has allowed the United States to eradicate measles and rubella, and the world no longer sees mass casualties from smallpox or polio. Vaccinations save an estimated 2 to 3 million lives each year. In the U.S. alone, every child born can be protected again 17 serious diseases and conditions through immunization.
The childhood immunization schedule includes the following vaccinations in the first twelve months of life:
Additional boosters are required for many vaccines, up until the age of 18, as well as additional optional immunization for human papillomavirus (HPV). Please consult your doctor if you are unsure about your child’s vaccination schedule. Public schools throughout the United States require proof of immunization prior to enrollment to safeguard the public at large. Make sure that you are in compliance and have proper documentation.