While debate about improving the nation’s health care system continues, policymakers, health care experts and consumers essentially agree on three goals—improving patient care, creating healthier communities and reducing health care costs. States face huge challenges in developing successful strategies for broad population impact, and even bigger challenges for having a positive impact in rural areas and among certain disadvantaged population groups. Speakers addressed strategies for improving population health, increasing immunization coverage, and providing data to guide state decision-making.

Vaccination coverage among children in kindergarten, in the 2012-13 school year is approaching the People 2020 goal of 95 percent, but rates among states vary significantly. For instance, MMR vaccine coverage among kindergartners ranged from 85.7 percent in Colorado to more than 99.9 percent in Mississippi. States with lower rates of vaccine coverage have begun to re-examine their laws on parental exemptions and tighten the requirements. California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington are highlighted. 

When Molina Healthcare of Michigan noticed the poor immunization rates in the state’s children, it took action. The company, a leading health care provider for financially vulnerable families, launched “Shots for Shorties” to improve the rates of immunization among African-American children, primarily those from low-income families. The program offers a variety of necessary vaccinations, programs and educational materials full of strategies to increase immunization rates for African-Americans. 

 

Stateline Midwest ~ October 2012

 
More of the nation’s teenagers are getting immunized against diseases such as meningitis and diphtheria, but U.S. vaccination rates also show wide variances among the states. In addition, federal data show little progress in the percentage of girls receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
“We are very concerned about plateauing in HPV vaccination rates,” says Dr. Melinda Wharton of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than half of girls ages 13 through 17 in 23 states have received one or more doses of HPV vaccine despite the absence of state mandates.  New vaccination recommendations include boys.

The percent of adolescents who have received routinely recommended vaccines increased from 2007 to 2008.  Changes in vaccine policy, recent experiences with outbreaks or efforts to remove cost as a barrier can improve adolescent vaccination rates in states.

One-third of teens become pregnant before age 20. One-fourth of young women acquire a sexually transmitted infection by age 19, making them more susceptible to HIV infection.  This 4-page brief describes successful state health and education policies as well as successful targeted youth education activities that can prevent these conditions.