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FOR RELEASE: August 30 , 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Oklahoma’s Immunization Ranking for Children Ages 19 - 35 Months Improves from 44th to 25th in the Nation

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced today that the state’s immunization coverage ranking for children ages 19-35 months improved from 44th in the nation in 2005 to 25th in 2006.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Immunization Survey released today, Oklahoma’s immunization coverage rates for young children have increased. The survey results show that 80.4 percent of Oklahoma children ages 19 months through 35 months of age were fully immunized against 10 deadly and devastating diseases, including polio and hepatitis B.

“This represents a 4.7 percent increase over the previous year when 75.7 percent of these children were fully immunized. We believe the main reasons for the improvements are related to increased emphasis for vaccination by state doctors’ offices, use of the simplified OK BY ONE immunization schedule, and outreach efforts of health department immunization workers. Additional contributions have been made by childcare operators statewide who work with parents to ensure that all children attending childcare are up-to-date on their immunizations,” said Secretary of Health and State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

National rankings are based on the primary series of vaccines due by 18 months of age including four doses of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine), three doses of polio vaccine, one dose of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine), and three doses each of hepatitis B vaccine and Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B) vaccine. When one dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine is added, Oklahoma is ranked 22nd among states with a coverage rate of 77.6 percent.

“We are extremely pleased and proud to see an improved rate. When the rates were first measured in Oklahoma in 1993, only 65 percent of Oklahoma children were fully immunized, so we have increased substantially in the last 17 years,” Crutcher added.

During this centennial year of Oklahoma’s statehood, it is appropriate to remember the benefits the public receives from vaccines. One hundred years ago, diphtheria was one of the most dreaded of childhood diseases, killing over 10,000 people a year in the United States.

“Our grandparents and great grandparents grew up with diseases such as smallpox and polio. Today we never see a case or death from diphtheria. Most of us cannot remember when the polio epidemic of the 1950s terrified parents with the fear that polio would leave their children unable to walk or force them to spend the rest of their lives in an iron lung. We have come a long way in the advancement of public health initiatives that provide maximum protections for minimum costs,” Dr. Crutcher said.

“Even though we have achieved great success controlling these diseases with vaccines, we now face different challenges to protecting the health of children,” said OSDH Immunization Service Chief Don Blose.

Blose said today’s challenges include the increasing number of vaccines recommended for children, which makes it difficult for parents to remember when their children are due for vaccines, increasing costs of immunizing children, and making sure that all recommended vaccines are accessible in provider clinics statewide.
About 70 percent of Oklahoma children receive vaccinations from private physicians.

The OSDH and county health departments are working with communities, parents, and health care providers to find ways to address issues and improve immunization coverage in Oklahoma. For more information about immunizations, contact your doctor, health care provider, or the county health department in your area.

 

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