Government to Improve Immunization System

President Clinton has ordered the federal government to study the immunization rates of children under 5 who receive government aid.

The Agriculture Department will look at children involved in the Women, Infants and Children federal nutrition program (WIC) to develop a plan to improve immunization rates.

Although immunizations rates are at an all-time high, low-income, minority children are less likely to be immunized. Nationally, 90% of children receive their necessary shots; however, that number drops to 65% for children in inner-city areas. Health officials say these children are at a higher risk for diphtheria, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, and rubella.

In 41 states nationally, children involved with the WIC program have lower immunization rates. However, studies indicated that linking immunization services with the WIC program could help improve vaccination coverage by 40% within 12 months. Children who are uninsured would receive vaccinations at not cost under the Vaccines for Children program.

In the first 5 years of life, children should have hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae B, polio, pneumococcal conjugate, measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox vaccines. Parents with any questions on their child's immunization record should contact their doctor.

Information from the AP,