Washington falls behind on child immunization rates

New statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday showed immunization rates for toddlers in Washington state are below state and national goals.

Sixty-five percent of children under the age of three received the recommended series of vaccines in 2012. The goal for children of this age group is 80 percent and the national rate for this series of vaccines is 68 percent.

"Immunizations save lives and are among the most effective ways to protect everyone from serious, preventable illnesses - especially kids," Dr. Maxine Hayes, a state health officer and pediatrician, said. "We can't let our guard down. Recent disease outbreaks are a reminder that lives are at stake - we want everyone to be up-to-date on vaccines."

The low immunization rates in Washington apply to both recommended and individual vaccines, with measles, chickenpox, polio and hepatitis B vaccine rates falling behind national rates. The Washington measles, mumps and rubella vaccination rate was 85 percent, which is six percent behind the national average.

"We're disappointed to see rates that may not keep Washington kids and communities protected from serious diseases," Hayes said. "At the same time, we're glad to have a more accurate picture of what is going on and where to focus our efforts."