Iowa Ideas
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Iowa By the Numbers: A deeper look into vaccinations for children in Iowa

Feb 23, 2019 at 5:30 pm
    The first new influenza drug in 20 years was approved in October 2018, and maker Genentech says Xofluza began reaching pharmacies just in time for flu season. (Dreamstime/TNS)

    The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Some variations of the vaccine also protect against varicella, or chickenpox.

    The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children should get two doses of the vaccine, the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at 4 to 6 years of age.

    State public health officials contribute rising vaccination rates among children from 2008 to 2017 to health care providers in the state who consistently educate and encourage parents to immunize their children.

    “When we look at all of the research, what it comes back to is a parent will always trust their health care provider,” said Bethany Kintigh, immunization program manager at the Iowa Department of Public Health.

    Between 83 and 94 percent of a community, ideally, should be vaccinated to maintain “herd immunity,” a resistance that will help keep those vulnerable populations, or those who are otherwise unable to receive vaccines, from falling ill.

    “When we see that start to drop, then we can see cases (of disease) increase in that population,” Kintigh said. “It really is a community effort.”

    Iowa and U.S. vaccination rates — Child: 19-35 months old

    This chart compares vaccination rates among children aged 19-35 months — or children who should have had at least their first dose of the MMR vaccine — living in Iowa compared to children nationwide. The data shows Iowa stayed above 90 percent vaccination coverage, except for 2011. Overall, Iowa trended upward from 2008 to 2017.


    Iowa and U.S. vaccination rates — Teen: 13-17 years old

    The chart comparing teenage vaccination rates for 13- to 17-year-olds in Iowa and the United States tallies the number of individuals in that age range who have had two doses of the MMR vaccine, the recommended amount to immunize. Iowa trends sharply upward starting in 2008, surpassing the nation by nearly 5 percent in 2017.


    Iowa vaccination rates — Child vs. Teen

    This chart compares the number of Iowa children between 19 and 35 months who have received their first MMR dose to those aged 13 to 17 years old who have received both recommended MMR doses.

    This chart is able to discern the percentage of children who receive their first dose but do not go on to receive their second dose of the vaccine in their later years.

    The data indicates that at some stage, the number of Iowa teens who had both MMR doses was higher than the rate of young children who received their first dose.

    You could conclude from this that the increase in Iowa child vaccination rates in earlier years could reflect the higher-than-ever rates of teens with both MMR doses in later years.


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