Immunizations rise to 75% of U.S. children, Shalala says Rate was 55% in '92 but now is called highest in history

April 11, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- Immunization levels increased significantly in the past three years, to 75 percent of young children from 55 percent, the Clinton administration said yesterday.

Donna E. Shalala, secretary of health and human services, said the data showed "real progress -- progress we should all be proud of."

But she added that the nation had not achieved the goal set by the Public Health Service: to have 90 percent of 2-year-olds immunized with the full series of recommended vaccines by the year 2000.

Ms. Shalala said: "Four years ago our immunization rate was at 55 percent for the full series of shots. Today that rate is at 75 percent. That's the highest level in history. Childhood infectious diseases are at an all-time low."

President Clinton made increasing immunization levels a priority shortly after taking office in 1993, when he proposed a sweeping program under which the government would buy up all childhood vaccine and distribute it from a federal warehouse in Burlington, N.J.

Congress rejected that plan, but has approved other steps to increase immunizations.

The federal government is spending $938 million for immunizations and the purchase of vaccines this year, up from $511 million in 1993. President Clinton requested $1 billion for next year.

States use some of the money to set up vaccine registers to keep track of the people who receive shots.

In addition, states can obtain the benefit of discounts made available to the government when they buy large quantities of vaccine.

Childhood vaccines can prevent 10 diseases: polio, measles, diphtheria, mumps, whooping cough, rubella, tetanus, spinal meningitis, chicken pox and hepatitis B.

Pub Date: 4/11/96

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