A study released this week by Blue Cross Blue Shield reveals children insured by the company in South Carolina receive the recommended childhood vaccinations more than the national average for children it ensures in other states.
Over seven years of the study, childhood vaccination rates in South Carolina were 77.8 percent. The national average was 73.5 percent.
“We were pleased with the results that were in there showing that South Carolina had higher vaccination rates for young children that exceeded the national average,” said Dr. Matthew Bartels, pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer at BCBS South Carolina. “It was an important health message. We wanted to use that report to reinforce the importance of vaccines.”
The study was conducted on medical claims among Blue Cross and Blue Shield commercially-insured members from 2010 through 2016 by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
The data showed 75 percent of young BCBS members born in South Carolina in 2010 were fully vaccinated by the age of 2 years and 3 months, compared to 80 percent of children born in 2013. Nationally, 69 percent of young BCBS members born in 2010 were fully vaccinated compared to 77 percent nationally of children born in 2013.
“But there still is a ways to go,” Dr. Bartels said. “We’re not at the levels where anyone in the country is, in full disclosure… at the levels that would be considered fully-vaccinated.”
Nationally, the rate of refusal is 3.3 percent. South Carolina is one of the lowest in the nation at 1.2 percent. Only Alabama, Iowa and Louisiana are lower.
“As good as we did in South Carolina, we know there’s some room for improvement but we’re happy and pleased that South Carolina did so well in this comparative analysis,” he said. “The vaccine refusal rate in South Carolina is well below the national average as well as another positive indicator that even though we have a ways to go, we have a good chance of getting there in preventing disease in more children getting more vaccinated.”
For children who are not completely vaccinated, missed well-child visits were the largest reason nationally for under-vaccination, accounting for 62 percent of under-vaccinated cases for children born in 2013.
“The study was pretty clear that of the children who were under-vaccinated, the main contributor of that fact was that the children had missed two or more well visits,” Dr. Bartels said.
“Being a pediatrician, this was heartening to see the high vaccination rates in South Carolina and I personally feel that vaccines are one of the greatest health advances in the 20th Century and I hope that families continue to recognize that and the benefits they provide.”
Vaccination rates in the state’s largest metropolitan statistical areas were 81.8 percent in Greenville, 80.7 percent in Charleston and 78.5 percent in Columbia.
Additional information provided by BCBS South Carolina:
County Born in 2010 Born in 2013 Change in 3 years Overall 2016 number
Charleston 70.9% 81.2% 14.5% 79.8%
Dorchester 84.1% 80.6% -4.2% 80.8%
Greenville 67.3% 85.0% 26.3% 77.2%
Horry 74.3% 80.6% 8.5% 77.3%
Lexington 78.0% 77.9% -0.2% 77.0%
Richland 80.2% 79.2% -1.2% 79.6%
Spartanburg 79.5% 82.0% 3.1% 80.7%
York 73.1% 76.4% 4.5% 74.4%