Gap in Childhood Vaccination Coverage Is Narrowing

Study finds coverage now almost the same for urban, suburban and rural children

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Vaccination coverage of American children is improving, with the gap between various sociodemographic groups narrowing, according to a study published online Jan. 5 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Zhen Zhao, Ph.D., and Elizabeth T. Luman, Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in Atlanta, analyzed data from the 2000 to 2008 National Immunization Surveys on 185,516 children, and evaluated vaccine coverage for various sociodemographic groups for a minimum of four doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, three poliovirus, one measles-mumps-rubella, three hepatitis B, three Haemophilus influenzae type B, and one varicella vaccine.

There were significant disparities in 2000 across almost all sociodemographic factors, but the gap narrowed by 2008, the researchers found. The gap, in terms of urban, suburban and rural populations, is now insignificant, with disparities between suburban and rural children having narrowed by about 0.5 percent per year, the investigators discovered. However, only children without siblings reached the 80 percent vaccination target by 2008.

"Vaccination coverage has increased throughout the decade among children in nearly all segments of the U.S. population; disparities among groups have generally decreased, although some differences remain," the authors write. "Maintaining and advancing reductions of disparities in vaccination coverage will require innovative strategies to reach underserved groups, to ensure that all children are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases."

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