Health Index Priority: Increase Childhood Immunizations
Immunizing children is one of the most successful public health strategies, greatly reducing morbidity and mortality. By continuing to increase on-time vaccination rates, we protect entire communities from infectious disease.
Why does MaineHealth focus on increasing childhood immunizations?
- Vaccines protect children from more than a dozen diseases such as measles, polio, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
- Without a vaccine, children would have to get a disease in order to become immune to the germ that causes it.
- Vaccines not only protect the Immunized person, but also limit the spread of the disease to individuals who aren't able to be vaccinated, through herd immunity. This is important for babies who are too young to receive vaccines, those who may be immunocompromised, or people undergoing medical treatment for which vaccines would interfere.
- Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective interventions that contribute to healthcare system efficiency.
We support a variety of clinical, community and policy actions to help increase childhood immunizations throughout the MaineHealth service area. Here are some of the ways that MaineHealth and our partners are responding:
The Health Index Initiative tracks and monitors a variety of data sources to measure progress being made to increase childhood immunizations. In 2016, MaineHealth leaders set bold, aggressive targets for two of these measures as a way to challenge MaineHealth organizations to continue achieving positive steps toward the MaineHealth vision.
Short-term immunization measure and target:
- Among 2-year-olds cared for by MaineHealth family medicine and pediatric practices, 60% or more will be up-to-date on all ten vaccines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Long-term immunization measure and target:
- In three of the six years from 2015-2020, 80% or more of 19 to 35 month olds in Maine will be up-to-date for the bundle of 7 vaccines.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends 10 immunizations be fully administered to all children by age 2. To be considered up-to-date for all 10 vaccines, a 2-year old child must have received 24+ doses within the time frames established in the immunization schedule published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not even one dose of one vaccine can be missed or administered late. This strict definition is why the rates for the 10-vaccine bundle are so much lower than the rates for any individual immunization.
The percentage of 2-year-olds served by MaineHealth practices that are up-to-date on all 10 vaccines has risen from 54% in 2015 to 59% in 2018.
The 2018 rates for seven of the 10 vaccines exceeded the Healthy People 2020 targets.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends 10 immunizations be fully administered to all children by age 2. At this time, the National Immunization Survey (NIS) does not calculate up-to-date rates for the 10-vaccine bundle but rather the seven-vaccine bundle rates (19+ doses on time). The fluctuations in Maine’s NIS estimated rates are due to the statistical limitations of surveying small samples of 200 to 250 parents per year. Because of the small samples in the NIS, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more reliable up-to-date rates for the seven-vaccine bundle using data submitted by providers to ImmPact, Maine’s Immunization Information System. As of 2017, 76% of 2-year olds were up-to-date for the seven-vaccine bundle.
Both the Maine and U.S. estimates were below the Healthy People 2020 target of 80% and the MaineHealth target rate of 85%.