August 4, 2004
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week that Hawaii’s childhood immunization rates in 2003 were at a record high level of 82.8 percent. Hawaii’s infant immunization rate is almost 2 percent higher than the national rate of 81.3 percent. The state’s previous rate was 80.9 percent.
“Public and private agencies and physicians statewide have renewed their efforts to increase childhood vaccination rates over the last two years,” said Dr. Chiyome Fukino, Hawaii State Department of Health Director. “Education efforts have raised awareness about the importance of timely vaccination of infants. Parents need to remember that vaccination remains one of the best ways to protect their children from dangerous diseases like measles, whooping cough, and hepatitis B.”
Hawaii law mandates that all children be appropriately vaccinated before starting school. This has resulted in extremely high levels of protection in school-age children. However, many infants and toddlers, who are at highest risk of complications from vaccine-preventable diseases, remain at risk.
“We are pleased with our progress in attaining a high level of coverage but concerned that a substantial number of children in Hawaii still aren't adequately protected from vaccine-preventable diseases," said Dr. Paul Effler, State Epidemiologist.
Parents are encouraged to talk to their child’s doctor to ensure that their child is fully immunized by age 2. For more information about infant immunization, visit www.vaxhawaii.com or contact the Department of Health at 586-8332. Neighbor island calls are toll-free at 1-800-933-4832.
Free or low cost shots are available for children without a doctor or health insurance. Call Aloha United Way at 2-1-1 for a clinic in your neighborhood. Calls are free from all islands, and lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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For more information, contact:
Public Health Educator, Immunization Branch
Phone: (808) 586-8321
Phone: (808) 586-4442