Immunization rates in South Dakota and Pennsylvania

Immunizationrates in South Dakota and Pennsylvania

Immunizationrates in South Dakota and Pennsylvania

Therecent outbreak of measles in America has turned attention on thestate of immunization in American children. Measles is a verytransmissible illness that can have serious effects to the lives ofthe affected people. Some states have very high rates of immunizationbut some of them are still lagging behind. It is very important tohave fresh vaccination campaigns especially in areas where exemptionsare easily granted (Parker, 2006). The national administration focusis to have more than 90% of kindergarten children being immunized.Many parents ignore the need to have their children immunized. Thisexposes them to varioushealth conditions that can ruin their lives.This paper discusses the situation of vaccination in the states ofSouth Dakota and Pennsylvania and the reasons behind the prevailingsituation.

By2000, the cases of measles declared in the US were uncommon. Thismade public healthofficials to declare victory over the disease. Thisvictory was as aresult of a spirited campaign to have all children tobe vaccinated before joining kindergarten. Sincethere that time,there has been a growing number of children being exempted from thecampaigns (CDC, 2006). Parents exempt their children form thesecampaigns for religious or philosophical reasons in accordance to therules prevailing in their respective states. The relaxed rules insome states may have led to the outbreaks that have been reported inthe recent past.

Althoughthe federal government target of immunization has been reached, thereis still some resistance in some places. This is reason for concernby public heath officials as those children yet to be immunized arehighly exposed to an outbreak of measles and other similar diseases.There are variations in the rates of vaccinations across the states(WHO, 2014). The rates are notably low in states where the residentscan get exemptions with ease. In response to the recent outbreaks,lawmakers in the states with lenient exemption laws are consideringmaking adjustments to the current legislation.

SouthDakota is among the five states with high rates of immunization.However, the number of children joining kindergarten before beingvaccinated has been rising albeit marginally. In 2002, less than 20kidsin kindergartens in the state missed being immunized. The numberhad increased to 199 in 2013. This growth is initiated by moreparents seeking exemptions on religious grounds. It is the duty ofthe schools to insist on the inoculations but some of them are quitelenient (CDC, 2006). Similar cases of exemption have been reported inother states as well. Exemptions based on non-medical grounds haveincreased across the nation by 37%. While medical exemptions have tobe supported by a medical report signed by a physician, it is not thesame for religious reasoning. There is no way to support an exemptionbased on religious grounds. School administrators simply have tobelieve what the parents tell them. There is a chance that someparents do not tell the truth about their religious standing.

Onthe other end, Pennsylvania has the second lowest rate of vaccinationamong all states in America. Immunization rate in the state is lessthan the federal government targets of 90%. At the current rate ofinoculation, many residents of the state are at risk of outbreaks ofcontagious diseases like measles (Offit, 2007). These are reasonsthat are behind this low rate. Pennsylvania has laws that allowpeople to get exemptions apart from the common religious grounds.Philosophical exemptions are also allowed which increases the rate ofvulnerability. A variety of motivations existwhy some individualsoppose vaccination campaigns.

Thereare people who take a hard stance against immunization. Others taketime to accept the idea. All these are challenges on the path ofimmunization that should be dealt with effectively. When planningvaccinations, public health officials have to devise a policy thatwill respond to all the challengesbeing faced. They have to identifyreasons or causes people to turn against immunization. While there islittle that can be done with regard to religious believes, it isimportant to ensure every exemption is justified (WHO, 2014). Somestates are tightening requirements on beliefs based personal beliefs.Previously, exemptions were granted upon filling a simple form. Inthe current situation, a person applyingfor exemption based onpersonal beliefs is required to see a physician first. According topublic health officials, the tight requirements have resulted infewer people seeking exemption based on personal or religiousstanding.

Inaddition to passing tighter regulations, parents should be educatedonthe benefitof the vaccinations. Failing to protect the children fromdiseases such as measles can have serious effects on their wellbeingin the future (Demicheli et al, 2012). To the federal and stategovernments, the vaccinations should help in reducing the cost ofhealth care to the public. In a move to encourage people to taketheir children vaccinations, the authorities have agreed to pay partof the cost.

Insummary, there is need to vaccinate the children against preventablediseases. Health officials in the US had declared victory in 2000.However, the recent outbreak shows that there may be pockets ofunvaccinated children who can trigger a national outbreak (Parker,2006). The consequences of such diseases are very serious and parentsshould take every measure to ensure their children are wellprotected.


Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2006).&quotMeasles—UnitedStates, 2005&quot.MMWRMorb Mortal Wkly Rep55(50): 1348–51. PMID&nbsp17183226

DemicheliV, Rivetti A, Debalini MG, Di Pietrantonj C (2012). &quotVaccinesfor measles, mumps and rubella in children&quot.CochraneDatabase Syst Rev2:CD004407

MeaslesFact Sheet #286&quot.WorldHealth Organization.Retrieved 1December2014

OffitPA (2007). Vaccinated:One Man`s Quest to Defeat the World`s Deadliest Diseases.Washington, DC: Smithsonian

ParkerAA, Staggs W, Dayan GH et al. (2006).&quotImplications of a 2005measles outbreak in Indiana for sustained elimination of measles inthe United States&quot.NEngl J Med355(5): 447–55.