Immunization rate reaches 80 percent

Immunization rate reaches 80 percent South Dakota's child immunization rate rose to 80 percent in a recent retrospective survey by the state Health Department, the highest vaccination rate since tracking began in 1994. In 1994, the rate was just 62 percent.

"Reaching the 80 percent mark is a significant accomplishment and means more South Dakota kids than ever are protected from measles and other serious diseases," said Gov. Mike Rounds. "It's a credit to the clinics and to the parents who recognize how important it is to immunize their children."

Secretary of Health Doneen Hollingsworth said the Health Department reviews immunization records of kindergarten students each year to see how many were appropriately immunized by the age of two. The latest survey covered the 2002-2003 class. Adequate immunization by age two is defined as four doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, three doses of polio vaccine, and one dose of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

The survey reveals that 85 percent of kindergarten students in Clay County were appropriately immunized. The rate is 79 percent in Turner County, 85 percent in Union County, and 78 percent in Yankton County.

South Dakota's goal is to have 90 percent of 2-year-old children with full immunization coverage. Harding County had the highest immunization rate in the survey, with 100 percent of its children fully immunized in the 2002 survey. Three counties achieved the 90

percent goal � Jerauld County at 94 percent, Marshall County at 92 percent and Campbell at 90 percent. Jerauld County has achieved the 90 percent goal for the past three years.

"By the time South Dakota kids reach school, almost 100 percent of them are immunized," said Hollingsworth. "But we really need to immunize these kids as infants and preschoolers when they are most vulnerable to diseases like measles, diphtheria and whooping cough."

To learn more about the immunization schedule recommended for your child, contact your family physician, local clinic, community health center, community health nurse, or the Department of Health at 605-773-3737. A copy of the childhood immunization schedule is also available on the department's Web site at www.state.sd.us/doh/FAQ.

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