In a ceremony punctuated by the squeals of toddlers, President Clinton announced plans to increase the number of American children being immunized against childhood diseases.
A goal he set four years ago -- immunizing at least 90 percent of 2-year-olds for four diseases -- has been met, Clinton said Wednesday. About 78 percent of those children are fully immunized, but that is still short of his goal of 90 percent by 2000.
The president proposed tying federal money to state efforts to increase immunization rates further.
"We are celebrating a milestone today, but we have not completed the job," he said.
He was joined by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who praised the immunization rates as "a victory for our children and our nation."
The Centers for Disease Control told Clinton that the percentage of 2-year-olds vaccinated for diphtheria and tetanus increased from 83 percent in 1992 to 95 percent in 1996. Polio immunization rates were up from 72 percent to 91 percent.