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Employer Update | October 2014
Employer Update | October 2014

Low Vaccination Rates and High Incidence of Certain Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in Western New York

Vaccination rates for vaccine-preventable diseases are low in Western New York according to a new Univera Healthcare report.

Univera Healthcare’s analysis of the latest data available shows that the vaccination rate among Western New York children ages 19 months to 35 months (55.9 percent), including the recommended doses of DTaP, polio, MMR, Hib, hepatitis B, varicella and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, is lower than the state rate (65.1 percent) and national rate (68.5 percent). Also, less than one in three Western New York adults age 18 to 64 receives an annual flu shot.

“We hope these findings will prompt Western New Yorkers to pay more attention to keeping their vaccinations current,” said Matthew Bartels, M.D, Medical Director for Clinical Quality, Univera Healthcare.

Key findings include:

•     In 2011, 29.5 percent of Western New York adults age 18 to 64 reported having a seasonal flu shot within the previous year, whereas 60.6 percent of Western New York adults age 65 and older reported having the vaccine.

•     Western New York adults had a low rate of pneumococcal lifetime vaccination (33.7 percent). 

•     Due to the nationwide pertussis outbreak in 2012, pertussis rates across the country were high, but the rate in Western New York (22.7 per 100,000) was substantially higher than the national rate (15.4 per 100,000).

“It's difficult to understand why some adults avoid or ignore recommended vaccinations, when clinical research clearly shows that vaccinations for diseases such as influenza, pertussis and pneumonia save lives,” said Bartels, who also is a pediatrician. “When adults choose to skip vaccinating their children, it's equivalent to forgoing the obvious protection that's offered by a bicycle helmet or a child car seat."

According to Bartels, the true burden of vaccine-preventable diseases is undercounted, because many cases go undiagnosed, and some diseases, such as chicken pox, are not reported in New York state.

Bartels’ message to all adults is to talk to your doctor and your children’s doctor about vaccinations so that you and those around you can remain healthy.

“Patients who are not vaccinated put themselves and others at risk for sickness, hospitalization, decreased quality of life and even death,” he said.


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