By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Healthcare providers met in Philadelphia on Tuesday to discuss ways to improve access to vaccines for preventable diseases.

There was good news about the rates of childhood vaccines.

Philadelphia’s vaccine czar James Lutz said a 20-year campaign by the city health department has paid off. Where there used to be huge disparities in immunization rates between white and non-white children, now there are virtually none.

“That’s something to celebrate. It’s something that is an achievement not just for public health but for social justice.”

Lutz said that the city’s vaccine entitlement program provided shots free of charge and an education campaign taught parents what their children needed and how to get it.

“It takes a lot of work. It may take some time but the effort is well worth the results.

Lutz added that disparities remain in the adult population, with far fewer Hispanic and African-American adults getting flu shots or newer vaccines such as the one for hepatitis, but he’s hopeful the city will close that gap too.

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio.

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