Immunization rates for teenagers in Rhode Island are among the highest in the country, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"A core function of public health is preventing illnesses and injuries before they occur. Vaccines are one of the most effective prevention tools available to us today. Countless kids were spared the serious health consequences of many diseases because Rhode Island communities are so well vaccinated," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "Our immunization rates also have a significant impact on our overall healthcare costs as a state. Working to eliminate financial barriers to vaccination is part of our work at RIDOH to give everyone in Rhode Island, no matter what zip code they come from, an equal opportunity to thrive."
The data were gathered through a version of the National Immunization Survey that focuses on children from 13- to 17-years-old (NIS-Teen). Surveyors made randomized telephone calls to parents and guardians. The information they provided was confirmed with the child's healthcare provider. The study revealed that:
90% of Rhode Island girls and 88% of Rhode Island boys received at least one dose of Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, the highest rates in the country, and much higher than the national averages for the first dose of HPV vaccine: 65% for girls and 56% for boys.* HPV is a very common virus that can lead to cancer in males and females. 95.4% of Rhode Island teens received the combined vaccine called Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis.* This was the second highest rate in the nation. 96.4% of Rhode Island teens received at least one dose of Meningococcal Conjugate vaccine, the highest rate in the country.*
Vaccines are provided to all children in Rhode Island at no cost to the child's family or the child's healthcare provider through funding provided by insurers and funding from the federal government. In addition to the accessibility of vaccines, other factors in Rhode Island's immunization success include the hard work of all Rhode Island healthcare providers and public health practitioners; KIDSNET, a statewide health information system; and Vaccinate Before You Graduate, a vaccination catch-up program offered in all Rhode Island middle and high schools.
According to a CDC study published in 2014, childhood vaccines prevented 21 million hospitalizations nationally and resulted in $295 billion savings in direct medical costs nationally between 1994 and 2013.
The most recent National Immunization Survey data were gathered during 2016.
*It is important to note that the coverage rates produced by NIS are estimates—often referred to as point estimates. Because a random sample of telephone numbers is taken, these rates have an associated statistical margin of error. Due to statistical uncertainty (i.e. sampling error) in the estimates, Rhode Island's true vaccination rates may be slightly higher or lower.