Kindergarten Immunization Rate Drops Slightly in Washington - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Kindergarten Immunization Rate Drops Slightly in Washington

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The Washington state Health Department wants to remind parents to make sure their children have had all their vaccines before starting kindergarten. The Washington state Health Department wants to remind parents to make sure their children have had all their vaccines before starting kindergarten.
NBCRightNow.com - The Washington state Health Department wants to remind parents to make sure their children have had all their vaccines before starting kindergarten.

The Health Department says for the 2013-2014 school year, 83.3 percent of state kindergartners had all their vaccines required for school entry. Although it's only a 2.2 percent decrease from the previous school year, health officials say the new numbers are concerning.

“Parents need to ensure their kids are vaccinated to keep them safe,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman.

Health officials don't know why the immunization coverage rate dropped because the numbers had steadily increased for the previous two years. The Health Department is looking at some possible contributing factors, including how schools determine a student's immunization status and how they report that information. This will help health officials determine whether the cause is due to a change in the way schools measure data or if there are actually fewer kids meeting the requirements.

The rates for each individual vaccine required for school entry also dropped. Most concerning is drops in the whooping cough and measles vaccine rates—2.1 and 1.9 percent, respectively. This is especially concerning because Washington declared a whooping cough epidemic in 2012 and had a measles outbreak this year. Both diseases are serious and can spread quickly in schools and child care centers.

Even though immunizations dropped, exemptions rates for kindergartners remained at 4.6 percent this school year. This rate covers medical, personal, and religious exemptions. Parents are allowed to get an exemption from vaccine requirements under certain conditions: a medical condition, personal beliefs, religious beliefs, or membership in a religious body that does not allow medical treatment.

Washington provides all recommended vaccines at no cost for kids through age 18, available from health care providers across the state. For help finding a health care provider or an immunization clinic, call your local health agency, visit the ParentHelp123 resource finder, or call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588. You can also visit the Department of Health website.
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