Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923

OP-ED ARTICLE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 22, 2006
Contact: Dave Nelson
(817) 424-3446

TEXAS MAKING PROGRESS IN VACCINATION RATES

Texas spreads more public health resources across more territory than any other state in the nation, which makes it difficult to compete with other states on national rankings. So it is important that we tip our hat to state health officials in acknowledgement of a new national ranking on immunization rates.

The immunization rate for Texas children increased 11 percent in 2005, moving the state up in the national rankings from No. 41 to No. 24, according to statistics released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is the first time Texas has exceeded the national average, and it comes as welcome news to those of us who have been working to increase the availability of immunizations among our population, especially children who are at risk of developing several diseases that are entirely preventable.

Vaccinating children can prevent the onset of several diseases such as hepatitis A & B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella Haemophilus influenza type b, varicella (chicken pox), pneumococcal conjugate and influenza.

But in a broader sense, the issue of vaccines relates to our ability as a society to confront and contain threats to our overall public health. In the past, vaccines have stamped out one of the most feared and deadliest diseases, smallpox. Polio, another infamous disease that sparked fear in many, has been almost totally contained.

Currently our Senate Committee on Health & Human Services is studying the modern concerns that relate to vaccinations. We are studying how to continue to improve vaccination rates and ensure vaccine supply to prevent future shortages that compromise our ability to protect ourselves from preventable diseases.

In 2005, the Texas rate of vaccinations was 76.8 percent in 2005. Thatís an 11 percent increase over the stateís 2004 rate of 69.3 percent and a major victory for public health. It will help contain the spread of serious diseases, bolster overall awareness about the need for vaccinations and, most importantly, help protect our children.

People will say ranking No. 24 is nothing to brag about. I disagree. And although Texas has more challenges than any other state when it comes to public health, I would not count us out too quickly as a contender for No. 1.

SENATOR JANE NELSON, R-LEWISVILLE, represents Senate District 12 including parts of Denton and Tarrant Counties. She is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.

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