Among white children 19 months to 35 months old, 77 percent received a complete vaccination series, compared with 73.9 percent of black children, Wharton said.
"The Vaccines for Children Program has done a lot over the long run to address the much more marked disparities we used to see back in the 1980s," she said. "But we clearly need to focus on disparity issues."
And greater attention must be paid to teens, Wharton said, noting that the Healthy People 2010 vaccination goals for children 13 to 17 have yet to be met. This is especially true for the vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and chicken pox.
In 2006, teen vaccination coverage was about 80 percent for the new hepatitis B vaccine as well as the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. But about 60 percent of teens had gotten the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine or the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine, or the varicella vaccine.
Specifically, coverage was 11 percent for the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine and 12 percent for the new meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against bacterial meningitis.
Data for the new human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer, were not available for the survey. However, according to Merck & Co., the manufacturer of the vaccine, 7.5 million doses had been distributed in the United States as of June, Wharton said.
"Clearly, we need to get more information to parents and health-care providers and make sure everyone has a good understanding of the recommendations and the health benefits of these vaccines," Wharton said. "It is going to take a lot of work to get the level of coverage among adolescents that we currently have for children," she said.
Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University School of Medicine's Prevention Research Center, said, "Immunization is on the short list of crowning achievement
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