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Report: Alaska kids behind on vaccinations

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Posted: Sunday, September 30, 2012 11:57 pm | Updated: 11:34 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Alaska doesn’t do well in getting its children vaccinated against illness and disease, according to a new state report.

The National Immunization Survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2011 ranked Alaska No. 39 among the states for having children ages 19 months to 35 months receive the proper series of vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliovirus, measles, hepatitis, varicella and pneumococcal disease.

The report also states that Alaska’s coverage ranking was among the lowest in the nation specifically for rotavirus.

Alaska did much better for having its kindergarteners vaccinated, however, ranking 15th through 21st among states for five vaccination types.

But Alaska slipped again among older children, those age 13 years to 17 years, according to the survey. The state was among the lowest nationally in the age group for tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis, and meningococcal vaccines.

Within the state, however, American Indian/Alaska Native coverage rates were generally higher than the statewide rates, according to a report from the state Section of Epidemiology. The report was published last week.

The state report made several recommendations aimed at improving the vaccination rate. It suggested the following:

• “Establishing a clinical environment that is committed to following CDC’s pediatric vaccination schedule.

• “Ensuring that all clinic staff (medical and non-medical) who interface with patients align with this priority.

• “Devoting time to educating vaccine-hesitant parents and provide them with accurate vaccination information.

• “Reminding parents when their children are due to receive vaccines and calling them back for missed appointments.

• “Reviewing each child’s immunization history during every encounter to determine vaccines indicated.

• “Enrolling in and using VacTrAK to help maintain accurate and portable immunization data, to facilitate vaccine delivery and reminder recall, and to monitor clinic-level immunization service performance.

• “Being knowledgeable about vaccine contraindications to prevent unwarranted medical exemptions.”

The report concluded with a reminder for school officials and daycare providers to ensure that all enrolled children have met state vaccine requirements.

Contact the newsroom at 459-7572.

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