Many parents in Washington and Idaho fail to have their children vaccinated against deadly diseases, according to a report issued Thursday.
Both states are among the bottom five nationally for vaccination rates, according to the report, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report measured vaccination coverage rates for children ages 19 months to 35 months.
“The big worry is that we have reached a point that Idaho could have a major measles outbreak,” said Tom Shanahan, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Measles cases have cropped up recently in Washington and Illinois, he said.
About two-thirds, or 65.6 percent, of Idaho children have received the full regimen of six vaccines requiring multiple doses that guard against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio and other diseases. The national average is 77.4 percent. Washington fared just a bit better in the survey – 69.0 percent of toddlers had been vaccinated.
While the CDC considers vaccines among the greatest public health successes of the past century, Washington and Idaho have had historically low immunization rates.
The CDC broke down Washington numbers into two regions, Western Washington and the rest of the state. They were close, with West Side counties reporting a 71.3 percent vaccination rate and the rest of the state, including Spokane, logging a combined rate of 68.4 percent.
Washington health officials were dismayed by the report, which showed that after several years of immunization rate gains, the numbers dipped 2 percentage points.
Raising rates is tough. Children must have all the doses of all the vaccines to be counted in the plus column. And the immunization schedule is complex, puzzling parents and providers trying to decipher which vaccines a child has received. Additionally, some parents choose not to vaccinate their children because of religious or health concerns.
The Washington state Department of Health offers the CHILD Profile Immunization Registry, which makes keeping track of administered vaccines easier.
Parents interested in ensuring their children have proper vaccinations can call their health providers or other health organizations, such as the Spokane Regional Health District or Panhandle Health District.