September 01, 2005

By Tom Burkindine
The Kaselehlie Press

The FSM Immunization Program recently reported that 92 percent of the nation's two-year-old children are fully immunized using the World Health Organization criteria. This is considered a remarkable achievement when compared to US standards.

When compared with the 50 states in the US, the high percentage of immunized children becomes more striking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) boasted that in 2004, the US reached a rate of 82.5 percent of its two-year-olds being fully immunized. The state of Massachusetts had the highest rate, with 90.9 percent of its children fully immunized.

When compared with the same age group and using the same definition for a fully immunized child, the FSM immunization rates surpassed the US rates by 10 percentage points. In addition, all four FSM states either equaled or surpassed the Massachusetts achievements.

The success of the immunization program is measured not only in the number of shots administered, but in the number of cases of diseases prevented. Many of the diseases have completely disappeared from the FSM. Polio has been completely eliminated with the last case in Micronesia reported in teh Marshall Islands in the 1960s. The last outbreak of measles in the FSM killed 13 children in 1995, but there have been no cases in the last decade. Hepatitis B is still present, but the rates are in rapid decline due to the vaccine given immediately after birth.

The FSM Immunization schedule provides each child with four doses DTaP vaccine, three doses of polio vaccine, two doses of MMR vaccine, three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine, three doses of HiB vaccine, and a single dose of BCG vaccine. These vaccines are purchased directly from the manufacturer in the US or from UNICEF at a total cost of $154.65 per child.