Nevada childhood immunization rank better, still needs work

Health care provider says more needs to be done before state can rest easy

LAS VEGAS – Nevada’s childhood vaccination rates are improving, according to recently released statistics. But while there are some signs of improvement, there is still much work to be done, says Dr. Rutu Ezhuthachan, division chief of pediatrics for Southwest Medical Associates.

The 2011 National Immunization Survey shows vaccination coverage for children aged 19-35 months have gone up significantly, raising Nevada’s rank from 51st to 40th place in the country.

“The improvement in childhood vaccinations is a great first step,” Ezhuthachan said. “It signals that public awareness campaigns and the creation of Nevada WebIZ have had positive effects.  But we can’t stop there. Too many people are still contracting preventable diseases, and they put the public at risk of a resurgence of serious, but preventable, illnesses.

The recent rise in immunization rates seems to correlate positively to the passage of NRS 439.265 during the 2009 Nevada Legislative Session. The law put into effect a requirement for all health care administrators who administer immunizations to children to document it into Nevada WebIZ, the statewide immunization registry. Since then, amendments to the law have now made it mandatory for adult vaccinations to be logged as well.

“The registry is used by health care providers to know what vaccinations their patients have already had,” Ezhuthachan said. “In turn, that aids them in determining what further vaccination to recommend. In the long-term, that helps cut down on the number of preventable infectious diseases.”

Immunizations can prevent infectious diseases like pneumococcal pneumonia, measles, meningitis, and whooping cough. Yet, more than 42,000 people in the United States still die from these and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and many more get ill. Children, who on average interact with more people than adults do, are especially at risk. Ezhuthachan says it is important people know which shots their children need and when to get them. Not only is the law to keep kids up to date, but it is important for the children of the community to stay as healthy as they can be.

Nevada law requires that all children be fully immunized before entering school, and vaccination requirements can be found at the Clark County School District’s Student Enrollment Process. In addition, all recommended vaccines can be found on the CDC’s website. The list for children ages 0-6 can be found here and the list for youth age 7-18 can be found here.