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Kansas Remains Above National Average In Immunizing Children

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Kansas children are being immunized at or above the national average according to a national report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report also identifies Kansas as being in the upper half of states for immunization rates in 2008. The annual National Immunization Survey (NIS) provides state-level estimates of immunization coverage among 19 to 35-month-old children.

“Immunizations are a critical component of preventative care, one of the goals of the Healthy Kansas initiative. I’m pleased with the progress the state has made over the past few years, and while still room for improvement, many Kansas children will have a healthier start on life because of the steps we have taken,” said Governor Mark Parkinson.

The 2008 rates for the 4:3:1:3:3:1 series (four doses of DTaP vaccine, three doses of polio vaccine, one dose of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, three doses of haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine, three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, and one dose of varicella vaccine) were at 76.7 percent in 2008, compared to a national average of 76.1 percent.

Earlier this year, Kansas received an award at the National Immunization Conference for having the second highest increase in immunization rates for the 4:3:1:3:3:1 series over a three-year period of time (2004-2007). Over that time period, the state saw an 11.3 percent increase in coverage in the 4:3:1:3:3:1 series. Nationally, the average increase was 1.2 percent.

“I am very pleased to see that Kansas remains in the upper half of states for immunization rates, however there is still work to be done,” said KDHE Secretary Roderick L. Bremby. “We know that vaccines save lives and we must continue our work to ensure that all Kansas children are immunized on time.”

Rates for five of the six individual series immunizations remained at greater than 90 percent coverage in 2008. Those five immunizations were Polio, MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella), Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b), Hepatitis B and Varicella (chickenpox). The sixth, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) was at 85.7 percent, which remains higher than the national average of 84.6 percent in 2008.

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“Since 2003, KDHE has collaborated with its partners to make changes to the Kansas immunization system, including incorporating recommendations established by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force. Those changes have had a positive impact on our state’s immunization rates,” Bremby said. “We have partnered with the Kansas Health Institute and Kansas Health Foundation to conduct the Immunize Kansas Kids project, which produced research to examine barriers to childhood immunizations in Kansas. Our hope is that as we utilize the findings from that effort we will continue to see success and make even more progress in our immunization coverage rates.”

The following actions have been implemented since 2003 to increase the state’s immunization rates:

* Implemented KSWebIZ, a statewide immunization registry (a centralized database of immunization records), to ensure parents and health care providers know a child’s immunization schedule so that he or she can be fully immunized. The registry now contains records for more than 1.3 million Kansans documenting more than nine million immunizations. Local health departments in 80 of the 105 counties in Kansas and 125 private providers have access to the registry. This is one of the largest health information exchange networks in the state.

* Recommended an accelerated immunization schedule for DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine to ensure more children complete the series by allowing them to receive the fourth DTaP dose at 12 months, rather than 15-18 months.

* Required hepatitis B and varicella (chickenpox) vaccine for school entry starting in 2004.

* Expanded the Immunize and Win a Prize program statewide, to provide an incentive for parents to ensure their child is fully immunized, and to assist those families struggling with financial issues surrounding immunizations.

* Partnered with the Kansas WIC program to provide follow-up of referrals for immunizations for children in the program.