Health Index Priority: Increase Childhood Immunizations

Immunizing children is one of the most successful public health strategies, greatly reducing morbidity and mortality. By continuing to increase on-time vaccination rates, we protect entire communities from infectious disease.

Why does MaineHealth focus on increasing childhood immunizations?

  • Vaccines protect children from more than a dozen diseases such as measles, polio, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
  • Without a vaccine, children would have to get a disease in order to become immune to the germ that causes it.
  • Vaccines not only protect the Immunized person, but also limit the spread of the disease to individuals who aren't able to be vaccinated, through herd immunity. This is important for babies who are too young to receive vaccines, those who may be immunocompromised, or people undergoing medical treatment for which vaccines would interfere.
  • Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective interventions that contribute to healthcare system efficiency.

Data and measures

The Health Index Initiative tracks and monitors a variety of data sources to measure progress being made to increase childhood immunizations.

Childhood Immunizations: MaineHealth Practices


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends 10 immunizations be fully administered to all children by age 2. To be considered up-to-date for all 10 vaccines, a 2-year old child must have received 24+ doses within the time frames established in the immunization schedule published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not even one dose of one vaccine can be missed or administered late. This strict definition is why the rates for the 10-vaccine bundle are so much lower than the rates for any individual immunization.

Across MaineHealth member-owned practices, up-to-date rates for six of the 10 individual vaccines increased from 2014 to 2016. Furthermore, the 2016 rates for eight of the 10 vaccines exceeded the Healthy People 2020 targets.

Childhood Immunizations: How Maine Compares to the U.S.


Results of the 2015 National Immunization Survey (NIS) released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that an estimated 71.8% (95% CI ±5.0) of Maine’s children aged 19-35 months were up-to-date on a combined series of seven vaccines (received all doses on time) compared to the national average of 72.2%.  

The 2015 rate represents a significant decrease from the 2014 estimated rate of 85%, however the 2015 rate is not statistically different from the majority of states. Only one state (Texas) had a statistically significant increase in their up-to-date rate of seven-vaccine bundle from 2014 to 2015.  

Both the Maine and U.S. estimates were below the Healthy People 2020 target of 80% and the MaineHealth goal rate of 85%.  

Adolescent Immunizations


The percent of teenage females in Maine who received ≥3 doses of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) immunization remained virtually unchanged from 2014 to 2015 (44%). However, the rate for teenage males with ≥3 doses of HPV rose from 28% to 47%, a statistically significant increase. This increase of almost 20 points was the second largest of all U.S. states. 

Taking action: Utilizing reminder and recall systems to identify children due for vaccines

We support a variety of clinical, community and policy actions to help increase childhood immunizations throughout the MaineHealth service area. One of our clinical strategies focuses on implementing patient reminder and recall systems.

The MaineHealth Child Health team supports MaineHealth member practices by providing education and coaching on how to effectively run and utilize reminder/recall reports to identify children who are due for vaccines. These reports, when paired with pre-visit planning, are an effective way to let the care team know which vaccines are due at the patient’s next visit. This reduces the chance of a "missed opportunity" to vaccinate.

For 2-year-old children across the MaineHealth system, those who are up-to-date on all ten recommended vaccines increased from 55% to 57% over the past year.

Interactive maps with county-level data

Looking for more childhood immunization data? Visit the Health Index website to find data on immunization rates and more.

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