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SD Vaccination Rates Top In Nation

For several diseases South Dakota has top childhood vaccination rates in the nation. The latest information available comes from the 2014 National Immunization Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Dakota’s immunization rates are in the top 10 for more than one dozen individual vaccines recommended across the country. A CDC survey examines rates for children 18 to 35 months old.

Doctor Lon Kightlinger is the state epidemiologist. He says South Dakota has the best rates for a series of polio vaccines, a series referred to as HIB, and another immunization.

“Our three vaccinations for DTAP – and that stands for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis or whooping cough – we’re first in the country for that. We’re first in the country for that," Kightlinger says. "Ninety-eight-point-five percent of our two-year-old kids have that series of vaccination."

Also known as the T-Dap, the vaccination needs one more dose, and South Dakota ranks 5th in country for the follow-up shot.

The state ranks 9th overall for the vaccinations the CDC recommends. Yet South Dakota has room for improvement. Kightlinger says half of toddlers in the state have received their two recommended Hepatitis A vaccinations.

“And that puts us at a ranking of 45th in the country. Hepatitis A is a bad disease for kids," Kightlinger says. "It wasn’t that long ago in the 1990s when we had big, huge outbreaks of Hepatitis A right here in South Dakota,  and now there’s a vaccine for that, so I think we’re vulnerable for another Hepatitis A outbreak here in the state. We need to improve those rates.”

Kightlinger says most South Dakota kids who aren’t vaccinated miss appointments or get behind on their shots. He says parents here rarely choose against vaccines.

He credits health care professionals and parents for keeping children protected from debilitating disease.