February 28, 1997
GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT IN ILLINOIS IMMUNIZATION RATES FOR 2-YEAR-OLDS
SPRINGFIELD, IL Gov. Jim Edgar today announced Illinois now is among the top 10 states in the country for the percentage of 2-year-olds immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases, a dramatic improvement from the state's previous ranking in the bottom five states.
"We are beginning to see the results of an aggressive effort by the state and by health care providers to make sure more Illinois infants and toddlers are fully immunized and protected," the Governor said. "Immunizations are the most powerful and cost-effective way to prevent common childhood diseases that can cause lifetime disability, disfigurement or even death."
The National Immunization Survey released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 1995, 81 percent of Illinois' 2-year-olds had completed the series of three recommended immunizations -- four doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) vaccine; three doses of oral polio vaccine; and one dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. That percentage means Illinois is tied for 9th in the nation. Maine had the highest percentage with 89 percent.
The national average was 76 percent. The national goal is to achieve a 90 percent immunization rate for 2-year-olds by the year 2000. In 1994, the first year of the CDC survey, Illinois ranked 46th with just 68 percent of 2-year-olds fully immunized.
"The peace of mind alone that immunizations provide for families is invaluable," Edgar said. "And as children benefit from this health protection, families and taxpayers also benefit through the savings of scarce health care dollars and resources. The Illinois health care and education community is to be commended for its work in making immunizations a top statewide priority."
The Governor also credited First Lady Brenda Edgar's "Help Me Grow" campaign for helping raise awareness in Illinois about the need for timely immunizations and about the availability of immunizations through programs sponsored by the Department of Public Health and community agencies.
"The results we are seeing are gratifying to say the least, but we still have a lot of work to do," Mrs. Edgar said. "We need to build on these efforts, remove more of the barriers to immunization services, and make sure immunizations are available to all during convenient hours and regardless of their ability to pay."
The Department of Public Health launched its Vaccines for Children Plus (VFC Plus) program in October 1994 to provide free vaccines to children enrolled in Medicaid, those without health insurance or those without adequate health insurance coverage for immunizations. The vaccines are available at public clinics or through private health care providers enrolled in the program.
This year, the VFC Plus program will use as much as $23.2 million in state and federal funds to purchase and deliver vaccine to health care providers throughout the state.
In addition, the Department provides local health departments and other public health providers with incentive payments for completing the vaccine series for 2-year-olds. The Department pays $10 for each child fully immunized. If the local health department or public clinics achieves full coverage for 90 percent of the children they serve, the per-child payment is boosted to $15.
Since 1994, the Department has paid $5.3 million in incentives, including an estimated $1.6 million since July 1996.
The CDC survey, which surveyed parents of 838 Illinois children born between February 1992 and May 1994, reported the immunization rate for Chicago was 71 percent. The rate for the rest of the state was 85 percent.
The CDC sampling also looked separately at coverage for recommended immunizations for Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. About 93 percent of Illinois 2-year- olds had received the Hib vaccine and 67 percent had received the hepatitis B, which will become a state requirement after July 1 for 2-year-olds enrolled in school-based early education programs.
Parents and other caretakers who need help 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 Mrs. 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
Questions or Comments