Routine childhood immunization rates declined statewide, North Dakotans encouraged to take action to prevent against disease

<< All News Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - 10:00 am Categories:
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Immunization
Infectious Disease

Routine childhood immunization rates, including those for measles, polio, and meningitis, declined during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statewide awareness campaign, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) encourages North Dakotans to “Pay Attention to Prevention” and encourages citizens to take action to protect against disease by contacting their doctor or trusted health care provider.

National Adolescent Immunization Week (April 4-8) and National Infant Immunization Week (April 25-29) are opportunities to raise awareness around the importance of routine wellness immunizations. Throughout the pandemic routine wellness immunization rates have fallen and lower rates could result in outbreaks.

“Ensuring children are up-to-date on routine, wellness immunizations is the best way to keep children healthy and stop the spread of potentially serious illnesses in our childcares, schools and community,” said Molly Howell, immunization director with the NDDoH. “Children who are not immunized are not only at risk of becoming ill from a variety of diseases, but are also able to transmit diseases to others, including those who may not be able to be vaccinated due to various medical conditions or age.”

MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination rates amongst North Dakota infants ages 19 – 35 months decreased more than 6%, from 84.7% in December 2019 to 78.3% in December 2022. Measles is a very contagious disease that can cause serious complications. Prior to measles vaccine being available in 1963, between 400 and 500 people died and 48,000 were hospitalized each year due to measles.

Meningococcal (meningitis) vaccination rates amongst North Dakota teens ages 13 – 17 decreased more than 5%, from 91.9% in December 2019 to 86.10% in December 2021. Although rare, ten to 15 out of 100 people with meningococcal meningitis will die and up to one in five survivors will have long-term complications, including loss of limbs or deafness.

Kindergarten-entry MMR vaccination rates decreased from 94.75% during the 2019-2020 school year to 92.36% during the 2021-2022 school year. North Dakota state law requires children attending childcare and students in grades kindergarten through 12 to meet a minimum number of required immunizations prior to enrollment.

Parents can find more information about which vaccines are required for child care and school on our website. Check with your health care provider or local public health to find out which vaccines your child needs. Cost should not be a barrier to getting children immunized. Children who are American Indian, on Medicaid, uninsured or whose insurance does not cover vaccines can receive vaccine at no cost through the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC).

“Adults are also recommended to receive vaccines to protect against illnesses like whooping cough, tetanus, pneumonia, and shingles,” said Howell. “North Dakota adults are also encouraged to ask a trusted health care provider if they are due for routine, wellness vaccines.”

For more information on immunizations visit our website at https://www.health.nd.gov/immunize

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