More Washington kids are at risk of getting measles, whooping cough and other preventable diseases. The reason: many toddlers are not getting vaccinated. KUOW’s Ruby de Luna has more.
Last year, only 67 percent of toddlers in Washington state were fully vaccinated by age 3. That’s according to an annual survey released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These aren’t the kind of numbers that Paul Throne with the state Office of Immunization and Child Profile was hoping for.
THRONE: “We know we need to get numbers up around 90 percent to be sure that we can prevent diseases like measles and whooping cough from spreading rapidly.”
Throne is with the Department of Health. He says part of the problem is that some parents are choosing some vaccines over others, or they choose a different time schedule than the recommended schedule of immunizations.
THRONE: “The schedules and recommendations were made to provide the fullest protection possible as early as possible in a child’s life. A child who is not yet fully vaccinated is vulnerable still to getting some of these diseases which can be extremely serious.”
Throne says he understands that some parents might be concerned about overloading a child with so many vaccines at once. But he says many of them have been combined so kids get fewer needle pokes.
This year alone there were 11 reported cases of measles in Washington state. This spring, a Clallam County woman died of pneumonia related to measles. It’s the first measles-related death in the U.S. in over a decade.