Oklahoma improved in America’s Health Rankings, a report issued by United Health Foundation, to 45th overall. The state has improved since ranking 49th in the nation in 2009. The report highlights progress on immunization rates, preventable hospitalizations and a reduction in the adult smoking rate.
The most dramatic achievement in the report was Oklahoma’s more than 10 percent increase in the number of children immunized, from 62.7 percent in 2014 to 73.3 percent this year. That rate is almost two percent higher than the national rate of 71.6 percent and will effectively prevent children from contracting dangerous diseases.
“It’s rewarding to see the progress our immunization staff and county health departments have made in providing access to life-saving vaccines for our state’s children,” said Dr. Terry Cline, Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Commissioner. “Even more rewarding is the knowledge that increasing vaccine coverage saves lives, particularly among our youngest and most vulnerable residents.”
America’s Health Rankings 2015 report also highlights Oklahoma’s lowest ever smoking rate at 21.1 percent. While still three percent above the national smoking rate, Oklahoma has continued to make dramatic improvements in the number of people who smoke.
“The success we have seen in smoking rates is due to the commitment of organizations like TSET, health policy leaders such as Governor Mary Fallin and scores of community partners who have rallied to combat this health threat.” Dr. Cline said. “While we celebrate this progress together there is still work to be done. We have 88,000 kids alive in Oklahoma today who will die prematurely from smoking. That is just not right.”
Oklahoma was recognized for accomplishments in other areas important to public health. In the past five years, preventable hospitalizations have declined by 29 percent for Medicare beneficiaries. Prevalence of physical inactivity was almost five percent lower than the previous year, with 28.3 percent of state residents reporting that they were not physically active. Oklahoma was also cited for strengths in low prevalence of excessive drinking and small disparity in health status by education level.
While rates of obesity, diabetes and drug deaths rose in the state, those categories followed a similar national trend. The report also cites challenges in the state due to limited availability of primary care physicians and the continuing high rate of cardiovascular deaths.