POCATELLO, Idaho - Kelly Tillotson, a with the Southeastern Public Health organization, stared out at an empty room where she was expecting to instead see a line of patients waiting to get their immunization shots Tuesday.
But the line was nonexistent because most people in the Southeast Idaho health district already have their immunization shots – and this is rare for Idaho.
The eight-county health district is reporting the highest number of children vaccinated overall above the rest of the state. While the national average of children under the age of two who have received their proper vaccination shots stands at 77 percent according to the most recent numbers published in 2010, the state average is 66 percent.
Tillotson said between the years 2009 and 2011 only 2.6 percent of children in health District 6 reported to have gone unvaccinated, which is significantly low compared to the rest of the state. She said parents still need to remember how important it is to get their kids that immunization shot.
"We have to keep them on track to keep them immunized to keep them safe," Tillotson said. "The more kids that stay vaccinated, the less disease we're going to see."
In the state of Idaho, it is mandatory kids get the shot before attending school. However, a large number of parents in cities such as Twin Falls are choosing not to do this.
"If more and more parents chose not to vaccinate, it puts all the kids at risk, even those that vaccinate. Because vaccines are not 100 percent, the more kids we can get vaccinated, the safer we are," Tillotson noted.
Doctor Brian Fulks is a pediatrician at the Pocatello Children's Clinic and works closely with the local school district when it comes to administering these shots. He said the reason many parents choose not to give their kids these shots is because they are misinformed; thinking getting the shot will result in negative side effects.
One such belief stems from the study published in the ‘90s which led to the popular theory of there being a link between autism and the shot. Fulks said this has proven to not be true.
"Since then, there have been many studies that have not been able to duplicate those results," Fulks said. "Ten of the original 13 authors asked to have their names removed from the paper, the journal stopped publishing the paper, and the lead author actually lost his license to practice."
Both Tillotson and Fulks agree there are serious repercussions if the state's trend of children not getting vaccinated continues. They said we could even start to see the reemergence of outdated diseases such as polio.
Although when it comes to Southeast Idaho, Tillotson will not be seeing a problem anytime soon giving the kids in District 6 that dreaded shot.
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