Iowa health officials are being recognized today for a big leap in the number of children in the state getting their immunizations. Don Callaghan, immunization program manager for the Iowa Department of Public Health, says the state’s increase is among the nation’s very best.
Callaghan says Iowa’s immunization rates for children between 19 and 35 months old saw an increase of more than 15-percent between 2003 and 2006, the second-largest rise in the U-S, behind only North Dakota. The change took Iowa from around 63-percent of kids getting their shots to nearly 79-percent, with the national average being 77-percent.
He’s upbeat about the recognition: "That’s definitely a good thing that Iowa has increased its immunization rates. It’s through the hard work of the private and public health care providers throughout the state."
Callaghan says it’s a constant challenge to get the message out about the vital importance of immunizations. He says: "We have work to do every year because there are new kids that are born every year. We have to continue to strive to achieve this excellence but also we have to strive to achieve this excellence in other age cohorts like adolescents as well."
Callaghan says the goal of the state’s immunization program is to reduce and ultimately eliminate the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases. He spoke with Radio Iowa from Atlanta where he is attending the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Immunization Conference.