Report finds New Jersey unprepared for outbreaks

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A new report finds that New Jersey is among the states least-prepared for outbreaks of infectious diseases, an assessment the state disputes.

The study released Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows New Jersey stacks up in only three of 10 indicators considered.

Only West Virginia did worse, though half the states and Washington, D.C., scored at five or lower.

The foundation gives New Jersey passing grades for public health funding, preparing for emerging threats and having toddlers vaccinated against Hepatitis B.

The areas where the state falls short include getting children and adults vaccinated against the flu and planning for climate change.

New Jersey Health Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner questions the results, pointing to America's Health Rankings released last week by the UnitedHealth Foundation that showed New Jersey to be relatively healthy and with a low infectious disease rate.

She said New Jersey was hurt in the latest report by details of the measurement. The Robert Wood Johnson study, for instance, measured which states had more than half their residents over six months old vaccinated for the flu for the 2013-14 flu season. New Jersey was at 46 percent — just missing the mark.

Leusner also said that the state's hospitals reduced bloodstream infections by 40 percent from 2010 through 2014, but the report only looked at infection rates in 2011-12.

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