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Is your child up to date?

Zoe Greszler • Updated May 5, 2017 at 8:55 PM

Are your children up to date on their state-required vaccines? A recent report from the Ohio Department of Health says you want to check. 

Local schools have reported a decent compliance rate with state-required vaccinations, such as New London’s kindergarten class, but there are a few that could use a few more shots, including Bellevue Immaculate Conception’s kindergarten class.

The most recent data from ODH showed thousands of students at hundreds of schools in Ohio fell short of immunization requirements required by state law — and there is little state officials can do about it.

Though almost 2 million Ohio students are required to have certain immunizations to prevent deadly disease outbreaks, the actual implementation is largely at the discretion of each individual school district.

“The Ohio Department of Health has no authority, unless there is an outbreak,” spokeswoman Melanie Amato told the Mansfield News-Journal.

While it is required by the state for schools to report student immunizations by Oct. 15, ODH doesn’t have to follow up on the reports. The data is compiled for reports for later use. Vaccinations required by Ohio include DTaP, polio, MMR, Hepatitis B, Varicella (chickenpox) and MCV4 (meningococcal).

The local health department is in a similar boat, though they don’t receive reports for all schools, public information officer Jessica Colvin said.

“Schools that have (fewer) than 10 students in a particular grade — kindergarten, seventh or 12th or new students — are not included in each section, for confidentiality issues,” she said. “The data is for all schools in Huron County. So Bellevue is only partially included, but not all kids are represented — some Huron County kids attend Seneca East or Plymouth-Shiloh, etc.”

The numbers

As of October of the school year, 90 percent of kindergartners and seventh graders in the county were up to date on their vaccines and 89 percent of seniors held the same report.

These numbers are down slightly from October 2015 when 90 percent of kindergartners, 94 percent of seventh graders and 90 percent of seniors in the county were up to date.

According to data provided by ODH, the New London Elementary kindergarten is the only class of those for whom data was provided to have a full 100 percent of student vaccinations up to date. South Central’s kindergarten class was the second highest elementary class with 96 percent.

South Central and Western Reserve schools held the highest rate of fully-vaccinated students for seventh grade data (tied at 98 percent) and for seniors (tied at 95 percent).

The class with the lowest percentage of students who were fully vaccinated was Immaculate Conception's kindergarten class in Bellevue (78 percent), followed by Maplehurst Elementary kindergarten class (83 percent).

That puts the county at a rate of 673 of 746 kindergarten students fully vaccinated, with 13 exempted by “reason of conscience or religious objection.”

Why vaccinate?

According to the ODH website, “the goal of the ODH Immunization Program is to reduce and eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases among Ohio's children, adolescents and adults.” This includes 17 vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by CDC’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health and that of classmates and the community,” said ODH medical director Dr. Mary DiOrio in a recent press release. “If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to check with your doctor to find out what vaccines your child needs, and when.”

Unvaccinated children are at increased risk for contracting vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, mumps and rubella, according to ODH. They also may spread diseases which are serious or potentially life-threatening for high-risk individuals such as infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated and others who have weakened immune systems due to other health conditions.

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