Our View: Vaccination compliance needed for disease protection – Mankato Free Press
When it comes to vaccination compliance, south-central Minnesota parents and school staff are doing a solid job of making certain kids are protected from numerous diseases.
The Free Press recently examined vaccination compliance in area school districts on the heels of the Rochester district blocking students from school who hadn’t received state-required immunizations. Of eight counties in this region, only one failed to have higher than state average immunization rates for kindergartners. St. James boasts having among the highest vaccination rates in the state.
The high rate of compliance is a comfort not only for the parents whose children attend the schools, but for the community as a whole. The more people vaccinated, the less chance for those who can’t be vaccinated becoming exposed to often dangerous illnesses.
The law requires a certain number of shots before children can begin their kindergarten and seventh-grade school years. Exemption documents for conscientious or medical reasons need to be completed if families don’t plan on complying.
The key to high compliance, say area school nurses, is lots of information and early contact with parents before fall classes begin. Kindergarten registration sessions, letters, phone calls are the tools needed to make contact with parents, perhaps repeatedly, so they understand the importance of the requirement.
Good education from health and school officials about the value of immunizations needs to go hand in hand in requiring the shots. Fear can be a powerful motive for noncompliance. The more that wary parents understand about the advantages and possible side effects of the shots, the better. It’s also important that interpreters be provided for parents who may not use English as their first language.
Blocking so many students from Rochester schools — initially 204 — seems like a drastic step that shouldn’t have been necessary in the middle of the school year. We are fortunate that in this region school and health officials make sure most children meet the immunization requirements before the first day of school. Those schools that didn’t hit high compliance marks need to figure out a strategy to boost those numbers before the school year is well under way.
As serious measles outbreaks popped up around the country in the last couple of years because vaccination compliance dropped, people realized just how important it is to keep up on the shots and not ignore health officials’ recommendations. These illnesses can be life-threatening.
A thorough, deliberative approach to making sure schoolchildren are vaccinated will ensure that our kids stay healthy and, therefore, our communities as well.