August 25, 1995
NEW PROGRAM IMPROVES CHILDHOOD IMMUNIZATION RATES
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- A new statewide vaccine program initiated last fall to increase immunization rates for 2-year-old children has produced significant improvements in some Illinois counties, Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director, said today.
"We are starting to see the positive results of an effort designed to make immunizations available to all regardless of their ability to pay or where the vaccine is administered," Dr. Lumpkin said.
Although only preliminary reports have been received from a survey of medical records that is to be completed in September, Dr. Lumpkin said success stories like those in Adams and Kendall counties give encouragement that state and local health departments are on the right track.
In 1993, the immunization rate for 2-year-olds in Adams County was 39.5 percent but, as of July 1995, that county's rate for the recommended childhood vaccines had climbed to 87 percent. In Kendall County, the immunization rate improved from 67 percent in 1994 to 85 percent this year.
"We recognize that as government and as parents we can and must do a better job," Dr. Lumpkin said. "Serious childhood diseases and needless suffering can be prevented simply by making sure a child is properly immunized. We are doing our best to make sure these vaccines are readily available."
A recent random survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 68 percent of children in Illinois are fully immunized by age 2. The survey, based on random phone calls to parents between April 1994 and December 1994, reported the immunization rate for Chicago was 58 percent and the remainder of the state was 72 percent. The national average was 75 percent.
Dr. Lumpkin said the state and local health departments have been working diligently to improve the immunization rate and it has improved from 44 percent of all children served by public clinics in 1993 to 55 percent in 1994.
The Illinois Vaccines for Children Plus (VFC Plus) program, which was launched in October 1994, provides free vaccines to children enrolled in Medicaid, those without health insurance or those whose health insurance does not cover immunizations. The vaccines are made available at a public clinic or through a private health care provider enrolled in the program. More than 2,000 physicians have signed on to the program.
During the first year of the Illinois VFC Plus program, $21.8 million of federal and state funds will be expended to purchase and deliver vaccine to health care providers in areas outside Chicago for children 18 years of age and younger. Chicago receives its immunization funding directly from CDC, but has adopted the VFC Plus program.
Children should receive 80 percent of their childhood vaccinations by age 2, which would require 11 to 15 vaccine doses during about five visits to a health care provider.
To meet state recommendations for immunizations by age 2, each child must receive four doses of DPT (diphtheria, pertussis/whooping cough and tetanus), three doses of OPV (oral polio vaccine), one dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), four doses of HIB (bacterial meningitis) and three doses of hepatitis B.
Illinois has adopted the national goal of having 90 percent of children 2 years of age properly vaccinated by the year 2000.
Childhood vaccinations in the United States during the last 30 years have nearly eliminated once common childhood diseases like polio, pertussis, diphtheria, measles and mumps. However, because vaccination levels in some communities are low, outbreaks of measles and pertussis still persist and are associated with deaths and medical expenditures that could be prevented with protective infant vaccinations.
Parents and other caretakers who need assistance in obtaining information about immunizations, locating a health care provider enrolled in the VFC Plus program or finding a local health department or clinic that provides immunizations may call First Lady Brenda Edgar's Help Me Grow hotline -- 1-800-323-GROW (Voice and TTY).
Help Me Grow is a public awareness campaign in cooperation with Ronald McDonald's Children's Charities that gives parents and other guardians better access to information about existing preventive services, including immunizations, for children and families.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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