State must develop a healthy respect for vaccinations |

State must develop a healthy respect for vaccinations

Dead last.

It’s something of a surprise that Colorado, typically slotted at or near the top of any list ranking the healthiest states in the United States, is in the basement in terms of vaccinating its children.

Apparently those “healthiest states” rankings, often put out by health magazines, don’t include a very important portion of Colorado’s current (and future) population ” children 19 to 35 months old.

Less than 63 percent of children in Colorado receive the proper vaccinations, according to the most recent National Immunization Survey.

Reasons for Colorado’s shortcoming include poverty, lack of government funding and a national shortage of whooping cough vaccine.

These are valid issues taken on an individual basis. Looking at the state as a whole, however, Colorado’s poverty level is significantly lower than a number of other states which boast superior vaccination rates. Colorado’s two-year average poverty percentage was 9.2 (2001-2002) ” well below the national average of 11.9 percent.

So, at least a portion of the vaccination shortfall may be due to an indifference to the benefits of the vaccines. And it’s a costly indifference.

Colorado pediatric hospitals spent $13 million in 2002 treating children infected with diseases that could have been prevented with vaccines, according to a study by Children’s Hospital reported on by The Associated Press.

On an individual level, a quick trip to the doctor or the county public health office is far better than suffering the emotional and financial strain of a child’s unnecessary stay at the hospital.

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