What are PBRs?: Oregon has developed Population-Based Rates (PBRs) that provide detailed state, county and potentially census tract immunization coverage information.
Why are they important?: Measles are making a comeback. In 2011, there were tens of thousands of measles cases in Europe, some of which spread to the United States by travelers. There were 17 measles outbreaks in the United States last year, and more than 220 cases. Oregon had four cases, which all failed to start an outbreak because the immunization rates were over the 92-94 percent required to keep measles at bay. It’s easy to look at statistical reports and know where in the state those single measles cases occurred. But now the Oregon Immunization Program, or anyone for that matter, can simply look online to find out where a community might need to beef up their measles vaccinations to stay outbreak-free.
PBRs provide detail: Most states use the annual National Immunization Survey (NIS) to gauge vaccination coverage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts this phone survey of randomly selected residents, with follow up calls to the participants’ health care providers. The NIS provides a snapshot of what’s going on in each state - and some cities and counties - but doesn’t include more area-specific information. What if you need to know how well children are protected in specific communities? Oregon's Population-Based Rates provide that level of detail.
Find the information YOU need: For example, someone may wonder if Oregon children who participate in the federally funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) program are more likely than the rest of the population to be fully protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. PBRs can be used to tell us that yes, in 2010 children receiving at least one VFC vaccine are at least as well vaccinated as those who do not receive any VFC vaccine. This helps to support the important role VFC plays in providing needed access to vaccines among Oregon’s children who may otherwise have challenges in receiving healthcare due to lack of insurance or under-insurance issues.
Track health equity: PBRs also help the Oregon Immunization Program track health equity, making sure that a child’s race or ethnicity does not predict how well protected they are from vaccine-preventable diseases. If a problem is identified, the public health system can act swiftly to address the inequity.
Who needs this?: Anyone, such as local health departments or organizations like United Way, can access this data to use in a number of ways, from grant writing to evaluations to legislative issues. The public can check to see how one county stacks up against the rest of the state. And when it comes to a serious health concern, such as measles, the Oregon Immunization Program can use PBRs to gauge community protection levels. Health officials can look at measles vaccination rates and determine where to do interventions and outreach to keep Oregonians healthy.
Need even more detail?: If you would like to get a detailed summary of vaccination rates by census tract, or if you have any other questions, please contact Scott Jeffries at Scott.R.Jeffries@state.or.us.