Oklahoma behind on immunizing toddlers

Sunday, April 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The state's babies are receiving decent health care during their first year, but Oklahoma ranks next to last in immunizations for 2-year-olds, a federal survey shows.

The National Immunization Survey shows some parents begin neglecting important health care measurers after their child turns 1 year old. Seventy-two percent of the state's children have received all current vaccinations by age 2, it showed.

Only Idaho, with 71 percent, ranked lower.

Connecticut had the best rating with 89.6 percent.

The survey has a margin of error of 5.4 percentage points. Information is gathered through private physicians and telephone calls to households with children 18 months to 3 years old.

Oklahoma's immunization rate is high during a child's first six months, said Don Blose, state Health Department director of immunization services. The survey shows 93.7 percent of infants have their first three doses of recommended vaccinations.

Compliance drops when a fourth dose of the multiple vaccination called DTaP _ diphtheria, tetanus and pertusis _ is due at 15 to 18 months old.

Officials say parents may stop using free county health department immunization clinics as their children get older. Also, parents might be getting complacent about immunizations because of high vaccination success rates during the past few decades, officials said.

But the lack of active cases doesn't mean deadly diseases such as polio or diphtheria have been eradicated.

``We don't see a lot of measles, but it's here in the U.S.,'' Blose said. ``Without immunizations, we could have an outbreak easily.''

The Oklahoma County Immunization Coalition and the Oklahoma City-County Health Department are sponsoring free child immunizations Saturday. Children receive cupcakes and other treats at the annual ``Cakewalk,'' which is held at several spots throughout the area.

Recommended childhood immunizations include diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles and hepatitis.