Eye On Boise

Idaho's immunization rate 'deplorable'

Members of the Idaho Legislature's Health Care Task Force hear disturbing news about the state's child immunization program Thursday. At right is Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene; center is Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston, and at left is Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
Members of the Idaho Legislature's Health Care Task Force hear disturbing news about the state's child immunization program Thursday. At right is Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene; center is Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston, and at left is Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Idaho's child immunization rate for the measles is lower than that of Indonesia, Pakistan or Croatia, and its rate for polio is below that of Botswana, Latvia and Sri Lanka, the Idaho Legislature's Health Care Task Force was told just now. Now, on top of that, state budget cuts are making immunizations more expensive and more difficult for Idaho families to get. "We're lowest in the country - we're at 57 percent," Jane Smith, administrator of the Division of Health in the state Department of Health & Welfare, told the panel, a rate she called "deplorable."

Lawmakers have been hearing plenty about the funding cut. "It was a decision made first by the administration, and apparently we concurred by not funding it," said task force Co-Chairman Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, who also co-chairs the Legislature's joint budget committee. He recalled that when Health & Welfare came before the joint committee, Smith indicated that federal economic stimulus funds should ease the state's immunization program through without changes for another year. She said that's what they thought then - but the federal funding was far less than anticipated. "The decision was based on the state's lack of resources - that's where the money was cut," Smith said. The cuts took effect July 1.




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