For Immediate Release
September 4, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Immunization Rates for Kansas Children Increase

Kansas’ immunization rates increased in 2007, according to a national report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The annual National Immunization Survey (NIS) provides state-level estimates of immunization coverage among 19 to 35-month-old children.

“One of the goals of the Healthy Kansas initiative is to promote preventative care, including immunizations. We've been working hard as a state to increase the number of children who are immunized, and it's good news that more kids are going to have a healthier start on life,” said Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

Kansas children have been immunized at increasing rates for five out the last six years. The rate for the 4:3:1:3:3 series has increased 14.9 percentage points since 2002 to 81.7 percent, putting Kansas above the national average in 2007. The rate for the 4:3:1:3:3:1 series increased 20.9 percentage points for the same time period.

“While I’m pleased with the increase in immunization rates for Kansas children, we still have a system to improve,” said KDHE Secretary Roderick L. Bremby. “Vaccines save lives and it’s critical that we all work to ensure that Kansas children are immunized on time.”

Rates for the 4:3:1:3:3 series (four doses of DTaP vaccine, three doses of polio vaccine, one dose of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, and three doses of h aemophilus influenzae type b vaccine) increased to 81.7 percent. This marks a 2.7 percentage point increase from 2006.

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) increased 6.1 percentage points to 76.0 percent for 2007.

Rates for several individual immunizations increased, according to the survey. Pneumococcal rates increased 11.0 percentage points and 0.7 percentage points for the series of four and three doses respectively in 2007. The rate for the hepatitis B series increased 1.5 percentage points, while the varicella vaccine rate rose by 6.0 percentage points.

“Given the up and down nature of these rates, we need to be cautious about attaching too much significance to the numbers from a single year. But it’s clear that the trend in Kansas is one of improvement,” said Gianfranco Pezzino, director of the Immunize Kansas Kids (IKK) project. “All of the partners in the IKK project are committed to continuing that positive trend.”

The IKK project is funded by the Kansas Health Foundation and jointly managed by KDHE and the Kansas Health Institute, where Pezzino is associate director of public health systems. More than 20 organizations, ranging from the Kansas Association of Local Health Departments to the Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, also are active participants in the project, which has the long-term goal of increasing Kansas immunization rates to 90 percent and sustaining them at that level.

“With the development of a strategic plan for immunization through the Immunize Kansas Kids initiative, I am confident that we can achieve the goal of 90 percent immunization coverage rate for Kansas children,” said KDHE Secretary Roderick L. Bremby. “If we can increase by 12 percent by the year 2012, we can have a dramatic impact on getting our children off to a healthy start in life. Twelve by Twelve (12x12) is possible.”

Since 2003, KDHE, in collaboration with its partners, has made many changes to the Kansas immunization system, including incorporating recommendations established by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force. The following actions have been implemented to increase the state’s immunization rates.