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NEWS & REPORTS

Childhood Vaccination Rates Drive Maine’s Rise in
2015 America’s Health Rankings® Report

PORTLAND, Maine — December 10, 2015 – In a report released today, Maine’s national health ranking rose five spots in 2015, in part driven by significant improvements in childhood vaccination rates. The 2015 edition of America’s Health Rankings® (AHR), an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis, shows Maine’s overall ranking rising from the 20th healthiest state in 2014 to the 15th in 2015.  Maine’s increase was second only to that of North Carolina, which improved its ranking by six spots to 31st.  For 26 years, AHR has evaluated a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings. 

“This year’s report reflects much encouraging progress in our state while showing there is still much more we must do to make Maine’s communities the healthiest in America,” said Deb Deatrick, senior vice president of Community Health at MaineHealth. “In addition to celebrating our successes, this report helps identify actions individuals and communities can take to promote a culture of health throughout Maine.”

2015 report highlights:

  • The percent of Maine children aged 19 to 35 months who were up-to-date on seven immunizations increased from 68.0 percent to 84.7 percent. MaineHealth’s Childhood Immunizations Program and Vax Maine Kids, the state’s only integrated website and social media campaign dedicated to vaccination education and awareness, together with the Maine Immunization Coalition and the Maine Vaccine Board, contributed to this positive trend, along with the efforts of thousands of health care providers throughout the state. An encouraging outcome of these efforts is that Maine’s rate of pertussis decreased from 55 to 25 cases per 100,000; while the decreased rate is still one of the highest in the nation, progress is being made.
     
  • Maine is making some gains in its efforts to reduce obesity, another national public health issue. While the percent of obese adults nationwide rose to 30 percent, Maine’s rate remained steady at 28 percent, though is still of significant concern. Having no increase is the first step toward the ultimate goal of reducing the percent of Mainers with obesity. 
     
  • An important indicator toward this goal is that fewer adults in Maine (20 percent) reported that they were physically inactive. Programs like Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0, which promotes healthy eating and physical activity, are helping to flatten the curve, especially among Maine students, who are a focus of these efforts.
     
  • Maine has the 12th lowest rate for cardiovascular mortality, at 219 deaths per 100,000.  Maine’s rate has decreased since 1990, when the rate stood at 408 deaths per 100,000.  Efforts like MaineHealth’s AMI PERFUSE program, which provides improved treatment for heart attack, and improvements in primary care management for patients with cardiovascular risk factors (e.g., smoking, unhealthy weight, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and high cholesterol), are among the factors contributing to the lower mortality.
     
  • While Maine has one of the lowest (ranked second) violent crime rates in the country, poverty remains a key concern influencing public health, especially among infants and children. Poverty has a direct impact on access to health care, educational opportunities, and other basic needs.
     
  • A concerning recent trend in Maine is that infant mortality rates have increased while the nation’s overall rates have decreased.  Maine’s infant mortality rates have risen from 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008-2009 to 7.0 in 2012-2013.  Meanwhile, the U.S. rates decreased from 6.5 in 2009-2010 to 6.0 in 2012-2013.  Over the past five years, low birthweight of infants in Maine has increased 13 percent, from 6.3 percent in 2010 to 7.1 percent of live births in 2013.

A complete copy of American’s Health Rankings® 2015 edition, including an interactive page that displays the core measures with the greatest impact on ranking, can be found at www.americashealthrankings.org. The report is also available on www.mainehealthindex.org.

About MaineHealth
MaineHealth is a not-for-profit family of leading high-quality providers and other healthcare organizations working together so their communities are the healthiest in America. Ranked among the nation's top 100 integrated healthcare delivery networks, MaineHealth member organizations include Maine Medical Center, Franklin Community Health Network, LincolnHealth, Maine Behavioral Healthcare, Memorial Hospital, Pen Bay Healthcare, Southern Maine Health Care, Waldo County Healthcare, Western Maine Health, HomeHealth Visiting Nurses, NorDx and Synernet. Affiliates of MaineHealth include MaineGeneral Health, Mid Coast-Parkview Health, New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland and St. Mary's Health System. www.mainehealth.org.

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Contact: Kathleen Taggersell
System Director, Marketing & Communications
(207) 661-7582
ktaggersel@mainehealth.org


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