Immunizations

Idaho Education News

The 2015 Disneyland measles outbreak stretched into Utah — but never crossed the border into Idaho.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

Idaho’s child immunization rates improved in 2015, reaching a five-year high.

And Department of Health and Welfare officials don’t know what to make of the numbers yet.

 

In 2015, 86.7 percent of Idaho students were considered “adequately immunized,” according to Health and Welfare spreadsheets obtained this week by Idaho Education News. The 2014 figure was 85.6 percent.

Idaho Education News

Child immunization rates are low in the silver mining community of Wallace, and school district superintendent Bob Ranells is well aware of it.

There is no simple, single explanation.

School nurses are expected to manually load data for every individual student — and, as Ranells puts it, nurses went into their profession to help people, not to sit in front of a computer.

Legislative moves to limit school immunization exemptions are drawing vocal opposition from some parents. Opponents of mandatory vaccination crowded a public hearing at the state capitol in Olympia Tuesday, and the scene could repeat itself in Salem Wednesday.

Kevin Richert / Idaho Education News

Mississippi has the nation’s highest kindergarten vaccination rate. Idaho’s rate is among the nation’s lowest.

What separates these two states — so often neighbors in national demographic rankings?

The answer can be found in the states’ laws. Mississippi essentially requires all parents to immunize their children before kindergarten. In Idaho, parents can use three different types of waivers to get out of immunizing their children. And Idaho schools have no recourse but to accept the paperwork and enroll these students.

Some Northwest lawmakers want to make it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.

  Oregon parents could soon find it harder to skip having their children immunized.

The Oregon House Wednesday sent a measure to the governor that would add steps to the way parents can opt out of the requirement. A similar law went into effect in Washington state two years ago.

More than 6 percent of Oregon children enter kindergarten without the required number of vaccines. That rate is among the highest in the nation, and it has public health officials concerned.