Sunday, March 13, 2011

Child Vaccination Rates Drop in Minn.

Survey shows immunizations dropped over 77 percent
Published : Tuesday, 08 Mar 2011, 2:45 PM CST

by Scott Wasserman / Shelby Capacio / FOX 9 News

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A national immunization survey shows Minnesota has become less vigilant about vaccinating its children.

The federal National Immunization Survey shows Minnesota has dropped 13 spots in two years -- from seventh in 2007 to 20th in 2009 for the primary series of shots given children age 19 months to 35 months.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota says the survey found Minnesota's childhood immunization rate dropped to about 77 percent in 2009 from 80 percent in 2007.

The director of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital, Patsy Stinchfield, said the cause is complacency because people don’t fear diseases like the measles anymore. Stinchfield also said that myths and misinformation -- such as vaccines causing autism -- have lead to a decline, along with the economy.

“There are increasing numbers of people who have lost their job. If you lose your job, you lose your health insurance,” Stinchfield said. “You may have partial job that doesn't allow you to go on the vaccine for children's program that gives you free vaccines, so economic times -- we know historically that people in poverty don't access health care -- could be a part of this.”

The Star Tribune reported that for every percentage point decline in the immunization rate, more than 4,200 children are exposed to diseases that can be prevented by vaccinations. That is the equivalent of 150 classrooms.

Still, not everyone is on board. Sydney and Dorothy Moehrl are 5 and 3 years old, and their parents are choosing not to vaccinate them and said they won’t immunize the baby on the way either.

According to Melissa Moehrl, her children are just like everyone else. They’ve never missed a doctor’s visit and, as parents, are concerned about their children getting sick but said they made the personal decision not to get the shots.

“I believe the risks for irreversible injury or chronic illness are higher than the risk of them actually contracting the disease and dying from it,” Moehrl said.

Hodan Hassan said she once felt the same way after her daughter, Jeni, was diagnosed with autism four years ago. After reading anti-vaccine articles, Hassan said she felt she would hurt her children by continuing the vaccines.

A year ago, however, a doctor encouraged her to think for herself. After doing a bit more research, Hassan said she now supports vaccination.

“I used to call radio shows, send emails (saying), ‘Vaccines cause autism,’ but I didn't have any science behind that,” she said. “It was just because someone else told me.”

Hassan now said she feels so strongly about vaccines that she started Choose to Immunize, a non-profit organization that works to educate parents about the positive aspects of vaccines.

“I think vaccines are greatest thing that happened to mankind,” Hassan said.

Copyright AP Modified, Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No comments: