Arizona is being recognized this week for making steady progress toward getting every child immunized, but the country’s top shot doctor is also here to remind parents, doctors and public health officials that we have some work yet to do.
Seventy-nine percent of Arizona children are up to date on their vaccinations, short of the 90 percent national goal that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hopes to reach by 2010.
Key barriers are complacency, lack of money and education, and the misheld belief that vaccines can actually do more harm than good, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Immunization Program for CDC.
“The United States and Arizona are enjoying the highest rates ever of coverage,” Schuchat told a small audience of legislators Wednesday. “But a problem anywhere can be a problem everywhere.”
Mumps is a case in point. Along with measles and smallpox, the childhood disease had been all but eradicated thanks to vaccinations. Now, the Midwest is in the throes of the biggest mumps outbreak in decades, and two suspected cases are being investigated in Arizona. The original carrier, Schuchat said, appears to have been a camp counselor who brought the disease from England.
Whooping cough also is on the rise, with nearly 150 cases reported so far this year in Arizona. A new booster shot for adolescents, added to the regimen last summer, is expected to help.
During National Infant Immunization Week, Schuchat is spending two days in Phoenix after swings through Yuma and Tucson to tout the state’s immunization rate and its statewide vaccine registry. She was to give the keynote address at a fundraiser Wednesday night and at an annual immunization conference in Phoenix today.
The 20 percent of children who aren’t getting their shots are a disparate group of rich and poor, including a growing number who believe vaccinations are responsible for autism and other ills, said Dr. Karen Lewis, medical director for the state Department of Health Services.
Schuchat said there is no evidence linking vaccines to autism, and parents take a great risk by exposing their children to a host of deadly diseases that can be prevented through immunizations.
“We need to remind people that these diseases are horrible, and we don’t want them to come back.”
Some free E.V. clinics
The following is a sampling of clinics that provide free child vaccinations through the Maricopa County Childhood Immunization Partnership. Bring your child’s shot record to every visit. For a complete list of clinic locations and hours, call (602) 263-8856.
Apache Junction: Apache Junction Fire Department, 1645 S. Idaho Road. Call (480) 982-4445 for times and dates.
Chandler: Chandler Kid Care, Morrison Building, 1875 W. Frye Road. 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., May 7 and 21, June 4 and 18, July 16, Aug. 6 and 20, Sept. 17.
Gilbert: Gilbert Health Center, 1501 N. Gilbert Road, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., May 10, June 14, July 12, Aug. 9, Sept. 13.
Guadalupe: Las Fuentes Clinic of Guadalupe, 8625 S. Avenida del Yaqui, 9 a.m. to noon, May 13 and 27, June 24, July 8 and 22, Aug. 12 and 26, Sept. 9 and 23.
Higley: Higley Elementary School, 15202 S. 170th St., 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., May 19, Aug. 18, Sept. 15.
Mesa: Mesa Immunization Clinic, 423 N. Country Club Drive, Suite 33, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
Scottsdale: Paiute Neighborhood Center, 6535 E. Osborn Road. Call (480) 882-4636 for an appointment.
Tempe: Escalante Health Center, 2150 E. Orange St., 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 6 and 20, June 3 and 17, July 1 and 15, Aug. 5 and 19, Sept. 2 and 16.