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Region ranks just above average on infectious disease protection

Tuesday - 12/17/2013, 4:31pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- Is enough being done to protect the public against infectious disease?

A new report rates the steps taken by all 50 states to prevent an outbreak and prepare for quick action should an emergency situation occur.

The Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scored the states and the District 10 key indicators.

Jeff Levi, executive director at Trust for America's Health, says everything from public health spending to vaccination rates was analyzed, as well as the ability to respond to emergencies.

Maryland, Virginia and D.C. scored just above average, each earning 6 out of 10.

Levi says a "6" rating is not good enough when it comes to dealing with infectious disease. A "7" or "8" would be far more reassuring.

Region-wide, two areas failed to make the grade: Sufficient public health funding and flu immunizations.

Levi says Trust for America's Health set a pretty low threshold for flu shots, grading states on whether 50 percent of the population got the vaccine. Maryland, Virginia and D.C. all fell short.

However, the District stood out on other areas.

"D.C. did much better than the rest of the country both on protecting young kids from whooping cough and also its policies on HPV vaccination," Levi says. "Those were two very important indicators of the District's willingness to take aggressive stands in making sure that, particularly our young people, are protected from these preventable diseases."

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