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VACCINE-PREVENTABLE DISEASES

The number of reported cases of vaccine-preventable diseases has decreased steadily over the past decade. While the number of cases of H. Influenzae, mumps, and pertussis increased between 2001 and 2002, cases of rubella, measles, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis A all decreased among children under 5. However, since most Hepatitis B infections among infants and young children are asymptomatic, the reported number of cases likely underestimates the incidence of Hepatitis B in young children. In 2002, the highest number of cases of pertussis was reported since 1964. Of these cases, 21 percent were among infants under 6 months of age, too young to have received the first three of the five doses of the vaccine. Mumps and rubella were at record low levels across all ages.

Although much progress has been made in reducing the number of reported cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, several of these diseases are still common. The number of cases of pertussis, Hepatitis A, and H. Influenzae remain substantial and indicate a continuing need to promote immunization efforts. Since childhood vaccination for Hepatitis A was recommended in high-risk areas, the number of cases has decreased; in 2002, the overall rate of Hepatitis A was the lowest ever recorded at 3.1 per 100,000. Rates of Hepatitis A have shown the greatest decline among children in States where routine vaccination was recommended, suggesting that immunization policies are having an effect.

Graph: Vaccine Preventable Disease Among Children[d]