Immunization rate up in state

Immunization rate up in state South Dakota is making real progress in childhood immunization, Governor Janklow told parents at the Westside WIC Clinic.

Janklow visited the site for National Infant Immunization Week, April 18-24, an annual effort to increase awareness of the need for early vaccination of children.

Janklow told the group South Dakota is the first state in the nation to have a statewide computer network in place to help vaccine providers manage immunization records and make sure children get the right vaccines at the right time. Children need 80 percent of their vaccinations in the first two years of life for optimum protection against disease, disability and even death.

The governor also said that the state's childhood immunization rate is up for the fifth straight year. "The good news is that about 75 percent of our kids are getting the shots they need when they need them," said Janklow. "Now we need to reach the other 25 percent."

The governor said 74.5 percent of this year's kindergarten class had the recommended immunizations by the time they were two, up from 70.9 percent for last year's class.

To track that immunization rate, the Department of Health reviews kindergarten immunization records each year. The percentage has risen steadily since 1993 when it was 60.3 percent.

"We've been working hard with vaccine providers, community groups and parents to make sure our kids are protected with immunizations. The increasing rate shows those efforts are paying off," said Janklow. "But we need to push this number even higher because too many children still aren't getting these life-saving immunizations."

The governor said an important factor in the rising immunization level is the number of community immunization coalitions now active across the state. Sixteen South Dakota communities have organized coalitions of local health professionals and community members who are working to increase childhood immunizations in their local areas.

He urged parents to check with their family physician, local clinic, community health center, or community health nurse to make sure their children are up to date on immunizations. For more informat-

ion about immunization, parents can contact any of these vaccine providers or the Department of Health at (605) 773-3737. A copy of the complete childhood immunization schedule recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, is also available on the department's web site at www.state.sd.us/doh/faq/index.htm.

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