It's often said that Washington is at the forefront of the vaccine debate. And for good reason. But while our state gets portrayed as a bastion for those entrenched in the anti-vaccine movement, new statistics recently released by the Washington State Department of Health suggest more and more toddlers are getting vaccinated.
According to figures from the National Immunization Survey distributed to the media yesterday, in 2011 75 percent of children ages three and under in Washington got a series of widely recommended vaccines -- DTaP, polio, MMR, hepatitis B, chickenpox, and pneumococcal. This constitutes a 4 percent rise from 2010, when 71 percent of toddlers three and under had received the series of six vaccinations.
The State Department of Health notes this increase means Washington is above the national average of 74 percent for the first time ever when it comes to the aforementioned vaccines.
However, the Department of Health does note some work yet to be done in the agency's vaccination efforts. For instance, the National Immunization Survey also compiled rates for individual vaccines in our state, like the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and chickenpox vaccines. Statewide the Department of Health has a goal of 90 percent vaccination rate for individual vaccines, a rate only hit in Washington when it comes to the polio vaccine.
One of the main reasons for the Department of Health's announcement yesterday seems to be what the agency classifies as the ongoing whooping cough "epidemic."
According to the Department of Health:
Immunization rates for DTaP, the whooping cough vaccine recommended for young children through age 6, increased from 82 percent to 86 percent. The national average is 85 percent. Even though this increase isn't statistically significant, it's an encouraging sign that rates are moving in the right direction - especially in the midst of a whooping cough epidemic.