Story last updated at 11/28/2012 - 3:16 pm
Currently, 65 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months are fully vaccinated on Prince of Wales Island. According to the 2011 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Immunization Survey the national average for fully immunized children 19 to 35 months was 73.3 percent with Alaska having a rate of 67.7 percent fully covered. These immunization rates have become a great concern nationally and statewide as we see increases in vaccine preventable diseases.
Take the recent Washington State pertussis outbreak. On June 16, 2012, the CDC reported the number of cases in Washington in 2012 had reached 2,520 (37.5 cases per 100,000 residents). A 1,300 percent increase compared with the same period in 2011 and the highest number of cases reported in any year since 1942. This is a good reminder of the importance of vaccinating our children.
With a goal of increasing the vaccination rate to 90 percent, the Prince of Wales Health Network is pleased to announce the "Raise the Bar" immunization initiative. The Network sets the bar high in an effort to make our island safe from vaccine preventable diseases such as pertussis.
In order to raise vaccination rates by 25 percent, Prince of Wales Health Network providers at Alicia Roberts Medical Center, Alaska Island Community Services, PeaceHealth Medical Group: POW and Craig Public Health Center will be collaboratively highlighting the importance of immunizations with their patients. Efforts are also underway to ensure widespread use of Alaska's Immunization Information System, VacTrAK, which maintains vaccination records on Alaskans of all ages.
The Network is asking individuals to join in this effort at many levels by first making sure their own vaccinations are current. When it comes to vaccinations, many do not even realize they are not up to date. People are encouraged to be proactive in their own health as well as the health of their communities.
Individuals can help increase vaccine coverage by staying informed, bringing their immunization records and updating them each time they have an appointment with their healthcare provider. If a vaccination is due, providers can usually give it at that time.
The success of the "Raise the Bar" immunization initiative depends upon practitioners and community members working together to inform friends and neighbors about the importance of vaccines. Some important points that you may share with your friends includes the following:
Immunizations benefit not just the individual but the entire community. Infectious diseases spread among the unimmunized, immune compromised and children too young to be fully vaccinated including the unborn. "Your immunization protects me and my immunization protects you."
Immunizations are one of the most effective ways people can protect against serious infectious diseases.
Infants, young children, the elderly, and those with chronic health problems need to be immunized because they are particularly vulnerable to complications of infectious diseases.
Immunizations work by strengthening the body's own immune system.
People are far more likely to be seriously harmed by the diseases than by receiving the immunizations that prevent them.
Immunizations are extremely safe due to of advances in medical research and ongoing worldwide review by doctors, researchers, and public health officials.
Medical advances have resulted in the availability of additional safe and effective vaccines. Vaccines now protect people against a greater number of serious preventable diseases.
Without immunizations, the diseases we are now protected from could easily return to infect, disable, and even kill, many infants, children, and adults.
Additional information and resources about the importance of immunizing is available upon request by Prince of Wales Health Network care providers. Patients are encouraged to talk to their health care providers to have questions answered and determine their individual vaccination needs.
For more information contact Gretchen Klein, Prince of Wales Health Network director at (907) 617-7635 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.