The nation's immunization rates for children have reached record highs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced late last month.
The immunization level for chickenpox vaccine increased from nearly 81 percent among children 19 to 35 months of age in 2002 to 85 percent in 2003. At the same time, coverage for three or more doses of the vaccine for pneumococcal disease increased from roughly 41 percent in 2002 to 68 percent last year.
In 2003, the percentage of U.S. children receiving the recommended four doses of the Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis, or DtaP, vaccine; three doses of polio vaccine; one dose of measles vaccine; three doses of the Hib vaccine, for the bacterial infection Haemophilus influenzae type B; and three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, increased to 79.4 percent, compared with 74.8 percent in 2002.
Still, as in previous years, urban areas suffered lower immunization rates in 2003 than did whole states. But the rates for some states, such as Colorado, with its 67.5 percent vaccination rate for the series of shots just listed, are cause for concern, health officials say. ("Vexing Vaccines," July 28, 2004.)