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State adds three recommended vaccines to program

By Judy Benson

Publication: theday.com

Published November 09. 2012 4:00PM   Updated November 09. 2012 5:04PM

The state Department of Public Health today announced the expansion of its childhood vaccination program, which will add three lifesaving immunizations to those available to Connecticut children across the state.

The Connecticut Vaccine Program expands the state’s current childhood vaccination program by providing required vaccines to all children in Connecticut. With the addition of these three vaccines -- pneumococcal conjugate, influenza and hepatitis A -- the state will cover 14 of the 16 vaccines currently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The program uses a combination of federal and state funds to purchase vaccines obtained through a contract the CDC manages with vaccine manufacturers. The state buys vaccine at the lowest possible price off the federal contract and provides the vaccines at no cost to clinics, private doctors and other health-care providers.

While Connecticut has immunization rates at school entry of about 99 percent, only approximately 76 percent of Connecticut children receive the CDC recommended vaccines they should have received by 3 years of age, the health department said in a news release. That leaves many children at risk for serious vaccine-preventable infections.

Rates for the hepatitis A and flu vaccines are much lower for those same children, the health department said. In fact, Connecticut ranks 30th in the nation for vaccinating children ages 19 months to 35 months, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2010 State Health Facts report.

“The expansion of the state vaccine program will improve access to important immunizations so that children across the state can be vaccinated on time,” Dr. Jewel Mullen, commissioner of the health department, said. “Every child has the right to be fully immunized, and we can do better. This expanded program moves us closer to that goal.”

The state law that created the Connecticut Vaccine Program requires all health care providers who administer vaccines to children under the age of 19 years to obtain the required vaccines through the program. The new state law goes into effect Jan. 1, and physician practices are currently enrolling in the program. For information, visit: www.ct.gov/dph/immunizations.

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