Murray Working to Boost Childhood Immunization

Apr 24 2008

During National Infant Immunization Week, Murray co-sponsors bill with goal to vaccinate 90 percent of children by 2010

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, during National Infant Immunization Week, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to introduce the Immunization Improvement Act of 2008.  The bill’s goal is to ensure that 90 percent of kids under age 3 get vital childhood vaccinations by 2010.

Although U.S. childhood immunization rates have increased dramatically in the last several decades, they are still too low – just 77 percent of children nationally had received the universally recommended vaccines in 2006.  Through the Immunization Improvement Act, Senators Murray and Murkowski seek to boost that number to 90 percent – the rate recommended by the federal government’s Healthy People 2010.

“Immunization is the single most effective way to protect against infectious diseases – and to prevent them from spreading,” Senator Murray said.  “It’s vitally important that we keep up our efforts to fight infectious diseases.  If we become complacent – if we assume that we don’t need to keep working to immunize our kids – we risk the possibility that these diseases will re-emerge.”

“This legislation will not only help Alaska, but all states, to boost their children’s immunization rates,” Senator Murkowski said.  “We must begin protecting our children when they are infants.  With this bill, we can help make parents aware of the importance of properly vaccinating their children.”

Murray said the bill would help immunization efforts like those in Washington state, which has made it a priority to raise its childhood vaccination rate.  By increasing education and resources, the state’s vaccination rate has climbed from 56 percent in 2003 to over 71 percent in 2006.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently named Washington the most improved state in the nation.

The Immunization Improvement Act seeks to boost childhood immunization rates by:

  • Authorizing additional funding for a demonstration program for Women Infant and Children (WIC) clinics in areas with low immunization rates among children under age 35 months.  The bill would authorize $5.5 million to be appropriated for each fiscal year between 2008 and 2011 to encourage mothers to get their children vaccinated.
  • And authorizing $5 million for the CDC to increase immunization education and outreach.
  • “As a mother, a grandmother, and a former pre-school teacher, I know how important the first few years are to a child’s development,” Senator Murray said.  “Every child deserves the chance to get a healthy start in life.  Our bill will help ensure our kids get that chance.”