PA Physician General, Merck officials meet to discuss childhood immunization rates

Jul 15, 2015, 15:28 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Health

WEST POINT, Pa., July 15, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Physician General Rachel Levine joined top officials at Merck & Co. today to discuss the need to boost childhood immunization rates in the commonwealth.

"It's very important to have this conversation," said Dr. Levine. "All childhood vaccines have been proven safe and effective, and they are a critical public health tool to prevent illness in children and adults."

Despite a high quality health care system and wide availability of immunization programs, the commonwealth is still falling short on the number of school children receiving proper vaccinations.

In Pennsylvania, for the 2014-2015 school year, 91 percent of children entering kindergarten have had the recommended two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations compared with roughly 95 percent required for "herd immunity."

Merck is the sole manufacturer of the MMR vaccine in North America, one of the significant childhood vaccines.

The company also manufactures Rota Teq, a vaccine for rotavirus, used to combat the leading cause of diarrhea in infants and young children.

"We share a common goal with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, to help protect all children and adults against vaccine-preventable diseases," said Jacques Cholat, president, Merck Vaccines. "Increasing population vaccine coverage rates across the state will help prevent outbreaks and improve public health."

The Department of Health is committed to increasing immunization rates among school-aged children and is working closely with the Department of Education to accomplish that goal.

MEDIA CONTACT: Amy Worden, DOH, 717-787-1783


SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health