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Missouri, Roll Up Your Sleeve!

August 16, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - With a new school year starting this month, health officials in Missouri are encouraging parents to get their children up to date on immunizations. Many children are eligible for federally-funded vaccines, but Missouri continues to see a declining vaccination rate.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 56 percent of young children in Missouri received all of their recommended shots last year. Pediatrician Dr. Melanie Lively warns that, with Missouri's declining vaccination rate, some diseases could make a comeback.

"Yes, we've had an amazing success rate with keeping people healthy so far, but that success rate can decline and we can go backwards. And we can see kids start to die; we can see kids start to grow up to be sterile, from things like mumps. The future can be very, very different, depending on what we do right now."

Dr. Lively says requirements for school vary depending on a child's age, so parents need to check with their local clinics or with public health departments for an immunization schedule.

There are sometimes medical, religious, or other reasons that parents opt for different immunization schedules, or choose not to have a child vaccinated. Dr. Lively warns that choosing to pass on the vaccinations without reason can affect a whole community.

"We've kind of forgotten that we live in a community. And it's not just our responsibility to take care of ourselves, but we really have a responsibility to take care of each other, too. These vaccines are so important not just for your own kids, but for the kids that you are around, for the people you're around, elderly, everybody."

To find out if children are eligible for free vaccines, contact your local health department or health care provider.

CDC statistics are at cdc.gov

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO