Minnesota hit by sagging vaccination rates

A new report released by Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota shows a decline in state vaccination rates, dropping 13 spots in the 2009 National Immunization Survey from seventh place in 2007 to 20th place in 2009.

This sagging rate, which includes the vaccination coverage for the primary series of shots among children 19 months through 35 months of age, may pose a health threat to Minnesota children. The childhood immunization rate dropped from 80.5 percent in 2007 to 76.9 percent in 2009. Every percentage point drop represents about 4,230 young children.

“This report serves as an alert to parents and pediatricians, reminding us that we must remain vigilant when it comes to the health of our children,” Alan L. Goldbloom, president and CEO of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, said.

Vaccination rates for adolescents ranked 35th among the states among 11 year olds to 12 year olds for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. The state ranks 38th in the nation for the immunization rate for meningococcal conjugate in children.

The report says that misconceptions and myths about vaccinations and a lack of education about the devastation that can occur from vaccine-preventable disease has led to vaccination complacency. A total of 1,000 cases of whooping cough, a vaccine-preventable disease, were reported in Minnesota in 2010.

The report recommends that all clinics in Minnesota use the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection, which helps to keep track of immunization history. Another recommendation is to increase up-to-date immunization status for all Minnesota children. Finally, the report recommends that communication between providers and patients be improved on the subject of vaccination importance.