President Launches New Effort to Increase Immunization Rates Among Children

President Launches New Effort to Increase Immunization Rates Among Children

Builds Upon Unprecedented Progress to Target Children at High Risk

December 11, 2000

Today, President Clinton, joined by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, will take strong new action to increase immunization rates among children nationwide. In an effort to build on the Clinton-Gore Administration's unprecedented progress in improving immunization rates, the President will issue an executive memorandum directing the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assess the immunization status of the five million children under the age of five participating in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and refer them to a health care provider when appropriate. This memorandum will also direct USDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a national strategic plan to ensure more accurate and cost-effective immunization assessment, referral, and follow-up for children at risk. In addition, President Clinton will announce that the American Academy of Pediatrics will instruct its 55,000 members to emphasize the importance of timely immunizations to their WIC-eligible patients and encourage them to take their records with them when they visit the WIC clinic so that WIC staff can assess their immunization needs.

CHILDHOOD IMMUNIZATION RATES ARE AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH, BUT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE. Under the leadership of the Clinton-Gore Administration, childhood immunization rates have reached all-time highs, with 90 percent or more of America's toddlers receiving the most critical vaccines by age two. Vaccination levels are nearly the same for preschool children of all racial and ethnic groups, narrowing a gap estimated to be as wide as 26 percentage points a generation ago. Despite these impressive gains, however, immunization levels in many parts of the country are still too low.

PRESIDENT CLINTON TAKES STRONG NEW ACTION TO IMPROVE CHILDHOOD IMMUNIZATION RATES. Today, President Clinton will issue an executive memorandum that:

Expand the availability of automated systems or computer software to provide WIC clinics with information on appropriate childhood immunization schedules, with the eventual goal of providing this service in every WIC clinic nationwide;

Disseminate a range of best practices for increasing immunization rates for low-income children to WIC state and local agencies;

Include information on the importance of immunizations and appropriate immunization schedules in standard WIC efforts to educate families about breastfeeding, anemia, lead poisoning, and other health-related topics.

PRESIDENT CLINTON PRAISES THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS' NEW ACTION TO IMPROVE IMMUNIZATION RATES. Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics will advise its 55,000 members to remind their WIC-eligible patients of the importance of timely immunizations and asking these patients to bring their immunization records with them when they visit the WIC clinic. Providing complete and documented immunization histories to WIC providers ensures that staff can efficiently and accurately evaluate a child's immunization status and refer them to a health care provider if appropriate.

BUILDS ON THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION'S LONGSTANDING COMMITMENT TO IMPROVING CHILDHOOD IMMUNIZATION RATES. In 1992, fewer than 55 percent of children under the age of three had received the full course of vaccinations. In order to address the dangerously low level of immunizations nationwide, President Clinton launched the Childhood Immunization Initiative, which helped make vaccines affordable for families through the Vaccines for Children Program, eliminated barriers preventing children from being immunized by their primary care provider, and improved immunization outreach. As a result, childhood immunization rates have reached all-time highs, with 90 percent or more of America's toddlers receiving the most critical vaccines by age two. Vaccination levels are nearly the same for preschool children of all racial and ethnic groups, narrowing a gap estimated to be as wide as 26 percentage points a generation ago. In addition, the Clinton-Gore Administration recently took action to provide enhanced federal funding for those states wishing to develop immunization registries. During the Clinton-Gore Administration, funding for childhood immunization efforts has more than doubled since 1993.



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