Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

N.M. Needed Someone To Call the Shots.(Final)

Byline: Jackie Jadrnak Journal Staff Writer

* Shifting immunizations from state to doctors' offices leaves vacuum in responsibility

Since the mid-'90s, New Mexico's early childhood immunization rates have been skidding like a car trying to brake downhill on La Bajada during a snowstorm.

Ask why, and you're likely to get bewildered shrugs or fingers pointed at someone else.

The clearest answer to emerge is that someone maybe a lot of people dropped the ball when vaccinations started shifting from state public health clinics to private doctors' offices in the mid-1990s.

After tracking close to the national averages for children born before 1995, New Mexico has fallen to last in a national survey of immunization rates for 2-year-olds.

"We recognize we're 50th," said Dr. Lance Chilton, an Albuquerque pediatrician who co-chairs a committee with the New Mexico Medical Society seeking to raise the rates. "We are all embarrassed and humiliated by being at that point."

Changes in program

In 1995, about 85 percent of vaccines distributed under a federal program were sent to public health clinics and 15 percent to private doctors' offices. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.