Hepatitis A vaccination rates vary greatly from state to state

A new survey on the hepatitis A vaccine recently released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that vaccination rates vary greatly from state to state.

In two states, Alaska and Oklahoma, approximately 85 percent of children are fully vaccinated for hepatitis A, but overall, the average rate is 30 percent, according to Fox News.

In the south, midwest and eastern United States, several states reported that three in 10 children have received one hepatitis vaccine injection, with only two in 10 receiving both shots.

"One reason for lower rates of hepatitis A vaccination in some states is because of the recommendation history," the CDC's Dr. Christina Dorell said, Fox News reports.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the vaccine for 11 western states where infection rates were the highest in 1999. In six other states, the committee only said the vaccine should be "considered."

In 2006, the committee issued a recommendation for 33 additional states, but only for one-year-olds. For teenagers the guidance remained "considered."

According to the survey, vaccination rates were the highest among highest in the 11 states that received the committee's original recommendation. There, six out of 10 children from ages 13 to 17 received both vaccine doses, Fox News reports.

In those states, black, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native children are more likely to have received the vaccine than white children. According to Dorell, these groups were originally targeted because of higher infection rates.

"Greater efforts among these communities allow them to have higher coverage. So it looks like those groups who seemed to be most at risk are actually being vaccinated," Dorell said, Reuters reports.

South Carolina and Mississippi have the lowest vaccination rates.

"I think the main barriers (to getting the vaccine) is that the disease is not considered a high risk disease, and there is no school requirement in our state and in most states," Dr. Cynthia Rand, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center said, Fox News reports.