By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Federal health officials say the nation's childhood immunization rates are at record high levels.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were significant increases in rates of immunization for chickenpox and pneumococcal pneumonia.

National coverage for chickenpox vaccine increased from just under 81 percent in 2002 to nearly 85 percent in 2003.

The numbers are from the National Immunization Survey, which estimates vaccination coverage among children 19-to-35 months.

But CDC Director Doctor Julie Gerberding says there continues to be disparities in coverage, especially in low-income urban areas.

There are an estimated one million children who haven't been vaccinated.

The National Partnership for Immunization has declared August National Immunization Awareness Month. Extended Web Coverage

What immunizations do your children need?

  • Hep B - A vaccine to protect against Hepatitis B virus.
    • Hepatitis B is a viral disease that causes acute and chronic liver damage.
    • It is transmitted by contact with the blood of an infected person
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control recommend immunizing against this disease during infancy

  • DTap - A vaccine to protect against diptheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough).
    • Diphtheria is a serious, and treatable, infection that can cause severe respiratory illness.
    • Tetanus is a bacterium in nature that can cause serious, but usually treatable, paralysis when allowed to fester in a deep and dirty wound.
    • Pertussis is transmitted just like a cold, and causes 1-3 months of severe coughing fits.

  • Hib - A vaccine to protect against Haemophilus influenzae b, a major cause of meningitis.
    • Hib is a common bacterium that causes severe blood and bone infections and meningitis in young children.
    • It is transmitted by close contact or like a cold.
    • This vaccine is among the safest and most effective of the vaccines.

  • Polio/IPV - Vaccines to protect against polio.
    • Polio is a virus that can cause permanent paralysis.
    • Due to vaccination, there have not been any naturally occurring cases of polio in the U.S. since the 1970's, although it is still present in Africa.

  • MMR - A vaccine to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles).
    • Measles is a viral benign illness causing fever, cold symptoms and rash.
    • Mumps is generally a benign illness in children causing swelling of the salivary glands in the cheeks, sore throat and fever.
    • Outbreaks of Mumps do occur in the U.S., but there are less than 1000 cases per year.
    • Rubella is a mild viral illness causing fever and rash.
    • Rubella can cause birth defects if a pregnant women contracts the illness for the first time.

  • Var - A vaccine to protect Varicella (chicken pox).
    • Advantages to getting the vaccine is that it is 85 percent effective in preventing your children from having to go through this very uncomfortable illness
    • The illness tends to be milder in vaccinated children
    • You avoid the extremely rare but life-threatening complications of the illness (approximately 40 normal, healthy children die each year in the U.S. from chickenpox – this is about 1 in 70,000 cases)
    • This vaccine may protect against adult shingles (a form of chickenpox)
    • There are also disadvantages to the vaccine, chickenpox is usually mild for children, but it can be very dangerous for adolescents and adults. Since the vaccine may wear off later in life, a booster may be required for adults.
    • Getting this illness as a child provides excellent lifetime immunity.
    • Catching chickenpox during pregnancy can be very harmful to the fetus or newborn baby. Getting the illness during childhood virtually insures protection from this.

  • Hep A - A vaccine to protect against Hepatitis A virus.
    • This viral disease is very mild in infants and children. Two-thirds of infants and children who catch this disease won't even show any symptoms at all.
    • This disease is transmitted when an infected person's hands are contaminated by their stool while going to the bathroom, and not thoroughly washing their hands.
    • Although this is a very mild disease in children, it is now recommended to get this vaccine during childhood (as early as age two)

  • These childhood diseases pose a threat to any child who is not fully immunized.

  • Keep your child's updated immunization record in a safe place. It is an important family document and lifetime record. It will be needed for day care, school and college entry.

  • Bring your child's immunization record to each visit, and ask your doctor to see if your child is due for any immunizations.

  • If your child has received immunizations from other doctors or hospitals, bring that information to your doctor so your child's record can be updated.

  • If you change doctors or move, get copies of your child's medical records to take to your new provider.

    Source: Web Reports

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