"It's actually costing physicians to vaccinate people, because they aren't receiving adequate compensation for storing and administering the vaccines," Bocchini said. "Physicians have not been able to adopt new vaccines, because it would cost them too much."
In a child's first two years, he or she should receive as many as 24 injections. These include vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, polio, influenza type B, measles, mumps, rubella, pneumonia, meningitis, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
Missing any one of these vaccinations could leave the child vulnerable to disease.
"One of the important things about immunization is it's important to stay on the schedule," Bocchini said. "If children's immunizations are delayed, that puts them at increased risk for exposure to vaccine-preventable disease."
Funding isn't the only reason a child's vaccination might be missed. Doctors also are looking at ways to simplify the complicated immunization schedule by combining some vaccinations, delivering in one shot what might earlier have required two or three or four visits to the doctor.
But Pisani said state governments need to stay constantly alert to disease and fund vaccination programs that will fill in when the federal government falls down.
"A lot of it has to do with political will, what is getting attention in that state," Pisani said. "It has to be a constant battle, because kids are being born every day."
To learn more about childhood vaccines, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Amy Pisani, executive director of Every Child By Two: The Carter/Bumpers Campaign for Early Immunization of Every Child By Two, Washington, D.C.; Joseph Bocchini, M.D., member of the American Academy of Pediatri
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