Federal Campaign Reaches Out To Northwest’s Vaccine-Shy Parents

Apr 30, 2012

The federal government’s top health officers are making an appeal to the Northwest’s medical community to boost vaccination rates. The deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control’s immunization branch spoke at a public health conference in Coeur d’Alene Friday as part of the national campaign.

Last year, Washington and Oregon immunization rates were among the lowest in the nation. Idaho’s was average. That’s according to a CDC survey.

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson has joined the push to encourage parents to stay on top of vaccine schedules. She’s a pediatrician from the Seattle area who writes about the controversies surrounding vaccine safety. “You know the first time that my son got his MMR shot, I bit my lip too," Swanson says. "The stories that I’ve heard online, on television, I remember them too. And so I think what we need to do is use science and how can we marry science with anecdote to tell informed stories that help families.”

Swanson says the record numbers of whooping cough this year in the Northwest make a case for pertussis vaccinations. According to the latest figures from the Washington Health Department, there have been 1,008  reported cases in the state, compared to 110 reported cases in 2011 during the same time period.