Although America has made rapid strides toward achieving goals for infant immunization set by the Healthy People initiative, many African-American and poor infants have been left behind, according to data from the 1999 National Immunization Survey.
Those data also reveal that many infants fall just one doctors visit short of receiving all of their scheduled vaccines. If these infants had received their final shots, America would have exceeded the goal of 90 percent immunization in 1999. The actual immunization rate that year was just more than 73 percent.
Several analyses of the NIS data are published in a supplement to the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
JUST ONE MORE VISIT
Overall, 73.2 percent of American children received a full series of vaccinations, according an analysis of NIS data.
That study revealed that 73.5 percent of the children who had not received a complete vaccination series needed only one more visit to finish out their series of shots, and most needed only one more shot to be fully immunized, says Elizabeth T. Luman and her associates at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This was reflected in the finding that children who were fully vaccinated averaged six immunization visits, while children who didnt receive all their shots averaged five visits.
Vaccination coverage increased with increasing numbers of visits. In fact, the group of children who had nine visits approached the Healthy People goal, with 89.7 percent receiving all their shots.
Vaccines come with recommended schedules designed to optimize immune response to the shots. However, doctors may not be taking full advantage of the flexibility of these recommendations, which would allow them and parents various options for completing the vaccinations on time, the researchers say.
One potential strategy is to administer at each health encounter as ma
Contact: National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, CDC
Center for the Advancement of Health