CDC: Teen Vaccination Rates Rising

A study in the weekly CDC report provides new numbers on how many teens are getting the vaccinations they need. Officials say that is still far from the government goal of reaching 90 percent vaccine coverage for everyone.This is the second year the centers have tracked and emphasized the need for shots for tweens and teens.

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A report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vaccination rates among the nation's tweens and teens is on the rise. But NPR's Patti Neighmond reports, officials say that is still far from the government goal of vaccine coverage reaching 90 percent.

PATTI NEIGHMOND: Federal health officials say about half of all 11 to 12-year-olds are now vaccinated against meningitis. About half got the booster against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, and nearly half of all girls got the first dose of the HPV vaccine, which protects against most cervical cancers.

Dr. Melinda Wharton specializes in immunization at the CDC. She says this is the fourth year the government has immunization statistics and the second year it has rates for each individual state.

Dr. MELINDA WHARTON (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): Four states are at 60 percent or higher coverage for all three of these new recommended adolescent vaccines. Those states are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. So that really shows us that it's possible to do it.

NEIGHMOND: Although the government goal of 90 percent vaccine coverage by the end of this year is unlikely. Even so, Wharton is encouraged by the rise in vaccine rates among adolescents. And she says recent outbreaks of whooping cough in California and other states likely result from natural disease patterns, and are not necessarily due to kids not getting the pertussis vaccine.

Some kids might've fallen through the cracks, says Wharton, because the pertussis booster is new and was made available just five years ago.

Patti Neighmond, NPR News.

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