Group Health Pediatricians Concerned About Falling Immunization Rates
John Dunn, MD, cares for a young patient
Immunizations are one of the most effective ways to protect the health of children and our communities. In fact, the development and wide use of vaccines is considered a public health milestone of the 20th century. Today, dangerous diseases such as polio, measles, whooping cough, and diphtheria are at all-time lows thanks to the preventive power of immunization.
BACK TO: Childhood Immunization Initiative
Even though immunizations may prevent as many as 33,000 deaths a year, according to one study, immunization rates in Washington continue to lag far behind the state's goal of an 80 percent coverage rate. In fact, approximately one in four children are not fully immunized to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines by age 3.
Group Health doctors are concerned about this immunization gap. As the immunization rate across the state falls, the risk of outbreaks increases. Washington state has already experienced a rise in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles and whooping cough diseases that once claimed thousands of lives every year, most of them children.
John Dunn, MD, a pediatrician at Group Health's Northshore Medical Center, leads Group Health's immunization program. He shares his views on what's driving the immunization gap.
Why is it so important for kids to be fully immunized?
What's behind Washington state's immunization gap?
Are vaccines safe?
Why the concern about vaccine safety?
How do we know who to trust?
In the U.S., parents could expect that every year
Polio would paralyze 10,000 children.
Rubella (German measles) would cause birth defects and mental retardation in as many as 20,000 newborn babies.
Measles would infect about 4 million children, killing 3,000.
Diphtheria would be one of the most common causes of death in school-aged children.
Haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib) would cause meningitis in 15,000 children, leaving many with permanent brain damage.
Pertussis (whooping cough) would kill thousands of infants.
For more information, see CDC: Vaccines & Immunizations and American Academy of Pediatrics: Immunizations/Vaccines.