Racial gap closes in child vaccination

Sept. 14, 2006 at 7:45 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Minority kids were immunized against diseases at the same rate as whites for the first time in nearly a decade in 2005.

The first-time data was announced by federal health officials Thursday.

Just over 76 percent of all U.S. children between 19 and 36 months of age got recommended vaccines against measles, whooping cough, chickenpox, polio, and other preventable illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal goals call for 80 percent vaccine coverage for children by 2010.

Officials said they had effectively closed racial disparities that have plagued public health officials for more than a decade.

Vaccines were delivered to 76 percent of whites, 76.3 percent of Blacks, and 75.6 percent of Hispanics, according to a study of 17,500 children and their doctors published in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"In the past these gaps have been major," said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. In 2003, 74 percent of white infants, but only 68 percent of black infants were fully vaccinated.

The report concludes that states still vary widely in their childhood immunization rates. Massachusetts had the nation's highest coverage rate at nearly 91 percent of infants, while Vermont had the lowest at just under 63 percent.

"States invest different amounts of their own resources into immunization," Schuchat told reporters by telephone.

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