BANGOR (AP) – Maine’s children are below the national average in their rate of immunization against preventable childhood diseases in a survey released by the Centers for Disease Control.

The director of the state’s immunization program said the CDC report, which differs from other studies, will be used along with other data sources to evaluate the effectiveness of Maine’s program.

In a compilation of data from 48 states and the District of Columbia, the CDC report last week compared immunization compliance rates for children entering kindergarten across the country.

The report showed kindergartners in Maine last year were less likely to have received all recommended immunizations than in most other states. Maine’s report included data on 95 percent of its approximately 14,600 kindergartners.

The CDC focused on the four vaccinations it recommends for all children. Among the report’s findings:

• Maine schools determined that 88.5 percent of pupils entering kindergarten in 2002 had received the four polio vaccines required. Only Georgia, with a rate of 87.9 percent, and Colorado, with 85 percent, reported lower compliance rates.

• Ninety percent of Maine kids were up to date with their diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus shots. Only three states reported lower rates: Wisconsin with 89 percent, Georgia with 87.9 percent and Virginia with 80.3 percent.

• All told, 89.2 percent of Maine kindergarten pupils had received both of the required measles-mumps-rubella vaccines. The national average was 95.7 percent for measles and 96.1 percent for mumps and rubella or German measles.

Lisa Tuttle, director of Maine’s immunization program for the Bureau of Health, said Tuesday that the CDC school-entry report is of limited value and prone to inaccuracies.

Of greater use, Tuttle said, is the annual National Immunization Survey, also conducted by the CDC, which surveys the immunization compliance of 2-year-olds state by state.

When measured with the NIS, which Tuttle described as “more rigorous,” Maine children’s compliance with polio vaccine requirements rate is 92 percent, better than the 89 percent national rate.

Using the NIS data, Maine ranked higher than average on the other reported immunizations as well, she said.

Tuttle said she would like to see 100 percent compliance with recommended vaccines, but added the goal isn’t realistic. Some children are medically unable to tolerate vaccines, and some parents are philosophically or religiously opposed to vaccinating their children.

“Because these diseases have been largely eradicated, parents have never seen the devastation of polio or measles,” Tuttle said.


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