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More kids in this state receiving recommended vaccines

Immunization rates for toddlers living in Washington state increased in 2013 from the previous year, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national immunization survey.

The survey says 71 percent of children under the age of three in Washington received the series of recommended vaccines in 2013. The state’s rate for the same series of vaccines in 2012 was 65 percent.

Although rates have improved, they’re still below the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80 percent, leaving many kids unprotected, say state officials.

For all vaccines counted, rates increased across the board except for DTaP, the vaccine that prevents pertussis (whooping cough). State officials say this is especially concerning because of the state’s whooping cough epidemic in 2012. This disease goes in cycles and tends to reappear about every three to five years.

California had an epidemic in 2010 and is dealing with another one now. Idaho is also dealing with whooping cough outbreaks. State health authorities said encouraging whooping cough vaccinations during times when there’s not a major outbreak or an epidemic can help stop or slow a future outbreak.

“Even though our state’s whooping cough epidemic is over, we still have cases and this disease will always be in our communities,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy.

“We mustn’t let our guard down when it comes to whooping cough. This and other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, are a plane ride away,” Lofy added.

Immunization rates for DTaP vaccine decreased 4 percent in 2013 from the previous year. Young kids need five doses of this vaccine to be fully protected since immunity from whooping cough may wear off over time.

Washington provides all recommended vaccines at no cost for kids through age 18, and vaccines are available from health care providers across the state.

Although health care providers may charge an office visit fee and an administration fee for the vaccine, a family that can’t afford to pay can ask that the administration fee be waived.

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