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September 11, 1991

Declining Childhood Immunization Rates Becoming Cause for Concern

JAMA. 1991;266(10):1321. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470100013002

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WHAT DO Bolivia, Haiti, and the United States have in common?

They have the worst immunization rates for children aged 2 years or younger in the Western Hemisphere. It's not much of a punch line, but then it's no joke.

Daniel Shea, MD, a pediatrician from Green Bay, Wis, and the American Academy of Pediatrics' vice president, said at a recent media conference: "The good news is that we have vaccines available that can prevent eight potentially killing and crippling childhood diseases. The bad news is that we are not taking advantage of these vaccines."

Potentially Preventable Diseases  The inevitable result of a failure to immunize children is the outbreak of potentially preventable diseases. In recent years, a resurgence of measles has grabbed the attention of physicians, politicians, and the public and has demanded a reevaluation of immunization services and, by extension, the health care system.The number of measles