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Kids falling behind on immunizations

Staff writer

“On-time” immunization rates for Marion County and Kansas children have fallen sharply, according to a report Tuesday by Kansas Kids Count.

In 2012, the state immunization rate was 72 percent. In 2013, it declined to 61 percent as more parents opted out of certain vaccinations.

In Marion County, just 64 percent of kindergartners were fully immunized by age 2. That’s down 3.4 percent points.

“Timely immunization not only keeps children healthy but also protects others, including infants who are too young for vaccinations and people with compromised immunity,” Shannon Cotsoradis of Kansas Action for Children said.

Physician Paige Dodson, director of medical services in Marion County, said the downward trend was being seen nationwide.

“Part of the reason is that, when we see fewer of these diseases, people haven’t lived through them,” she said. “We haven’t seen enough cases to be afraid of it. We haven’t witnessed firsthand how devastating some of these diseases can be.”

She said the goal of health professionals was to create herd immunity.

“The idea is that the more people are vaccinated, the less likely the disease will spread,” she said.

She wasn’t certain the drop in immunizations was leading to increased cases of pertussis, or whooping cough.

“We haven’t seen any cases this week that I’m aware of,” she said.

Last modified Oct. 23, 2014

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