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).
"Immunization prevents disease," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "Timely immunization is important for people of all ages – from infancy to adulthood – and helps build safe, healthy, and strong communities. Rhode Island's consistently high vaccination rates means that we are preventing the serious health consequences and significant healthcare costs associated with many illnesses and are helping give everyone in our state the opportunity to be as healthy as possible, regardless of their ZIP code."
The data were gathered through a version of the CDC's National Immunization Survey that focuses on children from 13 to 17 years old. Surveyors made randomized telephone calls to parents and guardians. The information they provided was confirmed with the child's vaccination provider. The study revealed that:
- 88.5% of Rhode Island girls and 88.7% of Rhode Island boys received at least one dose of Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, the second-highest rates in the country, and much higher than the national averages for the first dose of HPV vaccine: 68.6% for girls and 62.6% for boys. HPV is a very common virus that can lead to cancer in males and females. - 94.6% of Rhode Island teens received the combined vaccine called Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis. This was the fifth-highest rate in the nation. - 94.1% of Rhode Island teens received at least one dose of Meningococcal Conjugate vaccine, the third-highest rate in the country.
A separate survey by the CDC indicated that Rhode Island had the highest overall flu vaccination rate in the nation during the 2016-2017 flu season.
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 managed by RIDOH; 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.
* Coverage rates produced by the National Immunization Survey 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.