April 27 through May 4 is National Infant Immunization Week.
Because of this, state health officials recommend parents make sure their child’s vaccines are up-to-date.
According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), Montana is behind the nation in making sure children are up-to-date with their vaccinations.
“If you look at Montana in comparison to the rest of the country, for making sure our infants are up-to-date on time with everything, we actually kind of fall short,” said Bekki Wehner, Montana Immunization Program Manager. “We generally see about two-thirds being up-to-date on time and the nation average is around 70-72 percent.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2017 indicate around 20 percent of Montana children have not received their diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) shots by the time they go to school.
Wehner said most kids receive their vaccinations in the state although they tend to get the shots a little late.
“Our [measles, mumps and rubella vaccine] rates are actually fairly high around 92 percent,” added Wehner.
A percentage of the population isn’t able to be vaccinated due to medical conditions or other reasons.
The best way to protect those individuals is to have people who can be vaccinated be up-to-date on theirs.
Officials said if parents have questions or concerns, the child’s primary care provider is always the best person to speak with.
“Vaccinations are recommended at a certain time for a certain reason,” said Wehner, “Especially because when we look at infants for example, that’s a time when they’re the most vulnerable and they’re the most likely to catch more severe disease.”
If parents are worried they will not be able to afford their child’s vaccinations, they should speak to their care provider about the Vaccines for Children Program.
-Reported by John Riley/MTN News