Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Another school year is fast approaching and that may mean another round of immunizations for your child.
But according to the Minnesota Department of Health, the number of 11- and 12-year-olds getting vaccinated has declined.
Experts say only about 52 percent of them are up-to-date on their shots right now.
“We’re focusing on it, but we’re certainly not panicked,” said Kris Ehresmann of the Minnesota Department of Health.
While preschool and kindergarten vaccine numbers are normal, middle-schoolers require boosters and even some new vaccinations.
“We anticipate that they’ll be getting better this year, but even with that, they’re still not at the 90-percent levels that we would like to see for protection,” said Ehresmann.
Some of the vaccinations are required by law. Students and parents need to provide up-to-date immunization proof for things like meningitis, tetanus, measles and chicken pox before their middle-schooler can hit the books.
“The adolescent platform, as we call it, is relatively new. So it’s only been in the last 10 years that parents have had to make sure that adolescents get vaccinated,” said Ehresmann.
All immunizations are important, but measles and whooping cough are highly contagious. A child who contracts one of those illnesses can spread it beyond their school. And measles, especially, can be life-threatening.
“You can have a lot of people impacted. That’s not only just the students but its siblings and the adults in the household and elderly, maybe grandparents or relatives as well. And the younger babies,” said Mary Heiman, nursing service manager for Minneapolis Schools.
A program called “Minnesota Vaccines For Children” has made it so any child can get vaccines for free or at low cost.