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State sees gains on child immunizations, still lags

More kids in Washington are getting immunizations, but the state still lags behind vaccination goals.

Washington continues to make progress boosting immunization rates among toddlers, despite having the highest percent in the nation of families exempting kids from vaccines. 

The new survey from the Centers for Disease Control shows the gains come with room for improvement.

More than half of Washington kids between the ages of 19 months and just shy of 3 years old were vaccinated from a couple of really scary sounding viruses last year: Haemophilus Influenzae type b and rotavirus.

Lonnie Malone, a health educator with the state immunization office, says with immunization rates of 50 percent for rotovirus and 64 percent for HIB, Washington is still well below its target … but climbing. 

“We’re encouraged, and we also think this data shows parents are taking these diseases seriously," Malone said. "But we know there’s still a lot of work to do, and we need to keep working hard so all children are protected.”

Rates for many common vaccines stayed about the same and actually dropped by 7 percent for hepatitis A. Malone isn’t worried about the slump.

“There may be some access issues happening. Especially with an unstable economy, you know, we’re concerned about how changes in health care coverage may impact our rates.”

A new state law adds one more hurdle to parents who want to exempt kids from vaccines. They’ll have to get a signature from their doctors. Health officials expect that to increase child immunizations within the next few years.

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