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9. Immunization Rates for Young Children

Immunizing young children protects them from devastating and life-threatening diseases such as polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Protecting children from these (and other) preventable diseases helps support children’s physical health—a key component to healthy development and school readiness. In addition, immunization rates often are a good marker for the degree to which children are receiving other forms of primary and preventive health services.

What Can the Data Tell Us?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Immunization Survey presents national data on immunization broken down by poverty level and race/ethnicity (Table 17). About 70 percent of U.S. children ages 19-35 months are fully immunized. Children living in poverty are less likely to be fully immunized than children at or above poverty. The percentage of U.S. children (19-35 months) who are fully immunized also varies by race and ethnicity. Black and Hispanic children are less likely to be fully immunized than their white or Asian counterparts. Viewing data by race/ethnicity and poverty level makes it easier to identify groups at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases and evaluate the effectiveness of programs designed to increase coverage. 

Table 17. Estimated Vaccination Coverage with *4:3:1:4:3:1:4-FS†Among Children Aged 19-35 Months† by Poverty Level and Race/Ethnicity¶ -- National Immunization Survey, United States, 2013 †

 

Total
%

White only, non-Hispanic
%

Black only, non-Hispanic
%

Hispanic
%

Asian only, non-Hispanic
%

Multiple Race, non-Hispanic
%

US National

70.4

72.1

65.0

69.3

72.7

71.8

At or Above Poverty

73.8

74.9

69.1

70.2

75.8

75.3

Below Poverty

64.4

61.3

60.4

68.6

NA

NA

Unknown Poverty

69.2

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

* Estimates presented as point estimate (%) ± 95% Confidence Interval (CI). Estimate=NA (Not Available) if the unweighted sample size for the denominator was <30 or (CI half width)/Estimate > 0.588 or CI half width >10.
† Children in the 2013 National Immunization Survey were born January 2010 through May 2012.
§ Poverty status was based on 2012 U.S. Census poverty thresholds (available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html).
¶ Reported by parent/guardian respondent. Children of Hispanic ethnicity may be of any race.
† 4:3:1 plus full series Haemophilus influenzae (Hib-FS) vaccine, ≥3 doses of hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine, ≥1 dose of varicella (Var) vaccine, and ≥4 doses of pnemococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV).
Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention,  National Coverage by Poverty Level and Race/Ethnicity 2013,  http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/coverage/nis/child/data/tables-2013.html 

Table 18 shows national and state level data for 2013 from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. State data give a good overview on immunization rates for total populations; unfortunately, data broken down by race and ethnicity is not available for all states. Individuals can contact their state public health department to find out what type of immunization data is available. Local information broken down by race/ethnicity and income is more useful to see disparities.

Table 18. Estimated Vaccination Coverage* with 4:3:1:4:31:4-FS Among Children Aged 19-35 Months§ by Race/Ethnicity,¶ and by State and Selected Area -- National Immunization Survey, United States, 2013