The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) celebrated Rhode Island for having immunization rates that are among the highest in the country for several vaccines in different age groups at their most recent National Immunization Conference.
"Our tremendous immunization success is directly attributable to the dedication of Rhode Island's healthcare provider community, including doctors, school nurses, pharmacists, and community partners, as well as to KIDSNET, a statewide health information system that helps children be as well vaccinated as possible," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "Prevention is a fundamental principle of public health. By vaccinating Rhode Island children so well, we are preventing the serious health consequences that are associated with many illnesses and are helping give everyone in our state the opportunity to be as healthy as possible."
The CDC's annual National Immunization Conference brought together more than 1,500 local, state, and federal officials to explore science, policy, education, and planning issues related to immunization and vaccine-preventable diseases. Rhode Island received four individual awards:
- The highest flu vaccination coverage rate in the nation among children six months to 17 years of age during the 2016-2017 flu season (74%); - The second highest flu vaccination coverage rate in the nation for adults during the 2016-2017 flu season (51%); - Outstanding immunization rates for the vaccines routinely administered to adolescents. For example, among adolescents, Rhode Island had the highest HPV (Human papillomavirus) vaccination rate for males and females, the highest meningococcal vaccination rate, and the second highest Tdap vaccination rate. Tdap protects people against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis; - Outstanding immunization rates for each of the nine vaccines routinely administered to children 19 to 35 months of age, such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, rotavirus vaccine, and Hepatitis A vaccine.
In addition to preventing the health effects of many vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccines substantially reduce disease-associated healthcare expenses. According to a CDC study published in 2014, childhood vaccines prevented 21 million hospitalizations nationally and resulted in savings of $295 billion in direct medical costs nationally between 1994 and 2013.
The data were collected using the National Immunization Survey, which is a CDC program that generates vaccination estimates through calling randomly selected phone lines and following up with people's healthcare providers (if permission is granted). The rankings above are best estimates. Data are not collected on every individual, so the true vaccination rates (and therefore rankings) could be slightly higher or lower. Vaccination rates in Rhode Island and other states are evaluated against Healthy People 2020 goals, which are national health targets set by various federal health agencies, including CDC.
An additional factor in Rhode Island's immunization success is its Universal Vaccine Policy. This Universal Vaccine Policy allows healthcare providers to order all vaccines from the state for children from birth through 18 years of age, and most recommended vaccines for adults, at no cost.