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Delaware exceeds in immunization rates for children

Tom Byrne/Delaware Public Media

More Delawareans are realizing the importance of getting their children vaccinated, according to 2016 national health rankings.

In 2015, nearly 70 percent of all children living in Delaware got their flu shot, and UnitedHealthcare ranked the state as the third best for childhood immunizations.

Jim Talbot, the director of Delaware’s Division of Public Health’s Immunization and Vaccines for Children program said last year, 97 percent of children ages 2 through Kindergarten received their vaccines for measles and chickenpox.

“I just think that parents think it’s important,” Talbot said. “Certainly the doctors think it’s important because they are spreading that message about vaccinations and how they prevent communicable diseases, not only for their kids but also for other children they could come into contact with.”

The state’s efforts in vaccinations come up behind Connecticut and North Dakota. Barry Fabius, a chief medical officer and Delaware representative for UnitedHealthcare said the state could ultimately improve in expanding public education.

“On something like the Influenza vaccine, part of the resistance is a lot of the myths that are still out there that somehow the vaccine could give you Influenza,” Fabius said. “Things like that which we have to overcome are still in the public mentality - that you’re going get a severe reaction to the vaccine itself - and the vaccine is exceedingly well tolerated.”

Fabius said various myths linking vaccinations to autism have been dispelled.

And Delaware’s public policy concerning vaccinations is strong, Talbot said. The policy states children attending school need to be up to date with their vaccines or have upcoming appointments to bring them up to date.

The state’s goal is “herd immunity.” Talbot said that means for children in bigger groups such as classrooms or camps, if more people are vaccinated, a virus is less likely to spread.

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