Number of Students Vaccinated in North Dakota Nears 95%
The efforts from the North Dakota Department of Health contribute to the rise
FARGO, N.D. — With measles outbreaks in Washington and New York, health officials are making sure more kids get vaccinated.
In order to prevent an outbreak from happening in their state, the North Dakota Department of Health is making sure schools help parents understand the importance of getting immunizations.
“Most parents thankfully don’t take that option of philosophically objecting to getting the vaccine. They usually get the job done, and the schools that enforce that actually have very high immunization rates,” said Paul Carson, an Infectious Disease Professor at NDSU.
Even though North Dakota has not had a measles case since 2011, health officials say it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“All of the public school nurses are employees of Fargo Cass Public Health, and they run reports monthly to see who is compliant and who isn’t compliant, and if someone is coming due for a shot, then that nurse is going to send a letter home,” said Jessica Leitch, the Immunization Coordinator at Fargo Cass Public Health.
As a result of state intervention over the last few years, the North Dakota Department of Health says that 94% of kids across the state and 95% of those in Cass County are vaccinated.
“We were one of the fifth worst states back in 2012–2013, and through some recent changes through the schools, the rates have been improving in North Dakota,” Carson said.
Even though the rate has been growing over the years, health officials say hitting the 95 percent threshold of kids being vaccinated is a big step towards preventing a measles outbreak from taking place.
“Having that herd immunity makes sure that other kids in the school who are immuno-compromised who have an exemption have a lesser chance of getting or acquiring these vaccine–preventable diseases,” said Brenton Nesemeier, a Field Epidemiologist for the North Dakota Department of Health.
Before starting kindergarten, health officials say students in Minnesota and North Dakota should get vaccinated for Hepatitis B, tetanus, Polio, M–M–R, and chicken pox.