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More Teens Getting Needed Vaccines

But overall rates are still too low, CDC report finds

THURSDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- While vaccination rates for adolescents in the United States are gaining ground, there is still a long way to go to meet Healthy People 2010 goals of 90 percent coverage, a new government report shows.

For the first time, the Healthy People goal was met for measles-mumps-rubella and Hepatitis B vaccinations among teens aged 13 to 15.

But vaccination rates for the three vaccines recommended for teens -- which cover meningitis, cervical cancer and tetanus-diphtheria-whooping cough -- hover at less than 50 percent. In fact, only three states, Arizona, New Hampshire and New York, had vaccination rates over 50 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccination rates for those three teen vaccines are increasing throughout the country, although there are substantial differences in the rates among states and local areas, according to the report in the Sept. 18 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"Coverage among teenagers for the three routinely recommended vaccines is increasing nicely, but we still have a long way to go to reach our national objective," said Dr. Lance Rodewald, director of immunization services at the CDC.

Although there are racial and economic disparities in many areas of health care, vaccines for children is not one of them, Rodewald said.

"If you look across race and ethnicity, by vaccine, by coverage, there aren't a lot of disparities in coverage, so that's quite good to see," Rodewald said.

"In fact, for HPV vaccine (human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer), the below-poverty rates are higher than the above-poverty rates," he said.

Nationally, vaccination rates for the three most recommended adolescent vaccinations and one childhood vaccination increased from 2007 to 2008.

Specifically, coverage for the MCV4, the meningococcal conjugate vaccine for meningitis, rose from 32.4 percent to 41.8 percent, and rates for Tdap, the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine, jumped from 30.4 percent to 40.8 percent.

The rate for one or more doses of HPV vaccine, which protects women from cervical cancer, increased (from 25.1 percent to 37.2 percent). And the number getting two doses of VAR -- Varicella vaccine among those without disease history -- nearly doubled (from 18.8 percent to 34.1 percent), the CDC reports.

Rodewald said that more needs to be done to get vaccine coverage where it should be. For new vaccines, such as the HPV vaccination, it can take up to 10 years for coverage to reach 90 percent.

More information

For more information on vaccinations, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Lance Rodewald, M.D., director, immunization services, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Sept. 18, 2009, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

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