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County higher than state, nation in immunizations
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that vaccine-preventable disease levels are at or near record lows, said Barton County Health Department Director Lily Akings. She and Public Health Nurse Melissa Hagerman will share this good news when they address the Barton County Commission Monday morning. They might gloat a little as well.
The national immunization rate is 64. 5 percent and the Kansas rate is 64.1 percent. In Barton County, it is 83 percent. “That is really good for us,” Hagerman said.
 But, even though most infants and toddlers have received all recommended vaccines by age 2, many under-immunized children remain, leaving the potential for outbreaks of disease, the CDC notes. Many adolescents and adults are under-immunized as well, missing opportunities to protect themselves against diseases such as Hepatitis B, influenza and pneumococcal disease.
Without diligent efforts to maintain the immunization rates in Kansas, vaccine-preventable diseases remain a threat to our children, said Ryan Burns, director of the Immunization Program at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “It’s important for the health of all Kansans that our vaccination rates remain above average. Our programs work with health care professionals to help keep Kansans safe from vaccine-preventable diseases.”
The National Immunization Survey  monitors vaccination coverage among children aged 19-35 months. The survey describes the 2010 NIS coverage estimates for children born during Jan. 2007-July 2009. Kansas ranked higher than the national average in five categories and was the same as the national average for Hepatitis A.
The success in Barton County rises from the many outreach efforts of the health department and the cooperation between the department and clinics in the county.
This is another example of how folks locally are pulling together to make a difference. But, we cannot become complacent.
Surely Hagerman and Akings are well aware that things can change in a hurry. Lives of American children have been improved via immunization efforts, but vigilance and persistance must continue.
Dale Hogg