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Vaccines are extremely successful and cost-effective public health tools to prevent disease and death. Thirteen serious childhood diseases are now preventable, including measles, rubella, diphtheria and polio. Since vaccines were introduced, illnesses from vaccine-preventable diseases have been reduced by 99 percent. Still, more than one million U.S. children are not adequately immunized, and 11,000 children, who must be vaccinated by age two, are born each day. Continued vaccination is important because these diseases are still circulating-either at low levels in the United States, or only a plane ride away in another part of the world.1

Vaccinations present even greater opportunities to prevent disease among adults. About 36,000 Americans die annually due to influenza and its complications, most over age 65. Another 7,000 adults die annually from other preventable diseases, such as pneumococcal disease and hepatitis B. Safe, effective vaccines for these diseases can save lives and reduce societal costs in adults but are underused.2

African American and Hispanic adults are vaccinated at significantly lower rates compared to the general population. The best intervention strategies to increase immunizations among minorities are currently being evaluated by a federally sponsored project aimed at reducing immunization disparities.3

Facts to consider about immunization:
  • Older African American and Hispanic adults are far less likely to be vaccinated than older Caucasian people.4
  • Though only 3 percent fewer black children are vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella than white children, nearly two in three elderly white Americans get an annual flu shot, compared with only 48 percent of blacks and 56 percent of Hispanics.5
  • Influenza vaccination coverage among adults 65 years of age and older is 68 percent for whites, 48 percent for African Americans, and 54 percent for Hispanics. The gap for pneumococcal vaccination coverage among ethnic groups is even wider: 60 percent for whites, 38 percent for African Americans, and 36 percent for Hispanics.6
1,2,3 Healthy States - Immunizations es/Immunizations/

4 University of Maryland Medical Center
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6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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