Florida vaccination trends changing

Posted at 7:58 PM, Apr 26, 2016

Fewer young children in Hillsborough County are getting the vaccinations doctors recommend.

In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the county reported 100 percent of 2-year-old patients at county health departments got all the needed shots. But that number dipped to 83 percent in 2014 and just 78 percent last year. Health officials have some concerns about this trend, and there are some efforts to reverse it.

Jennifer Perry was waiting for a doctor's appointment with daughter Hailey at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital Tuesday. She's been in rooms like it a lot.

"She has a younger sister who had a vaccination that didn't take when she was 12 months and ended up severely ill. Once they found out what it was, and she was able to get a booster,  she was out of the hospital and a lot healthier," said Perry.

That experience cemented her belief that vaccines are a good thing, and all three of her kids have received every recommended shot.

"The benefits for our family, outweigh the risks, definitely," Perry said.

But across Florida, more parents are not following her footsteps. Reports from the state show while 84 percent of 2-year-olds got all the recommended vaccines in 2015, 13 percent- only got some of them. Experts say since that's far below the 95 percent state immunization goal, there's a risk for all kids.

"No vaccine is 100 percent effective.  So some vaccinated kids can still catch a disease for which they were vaccinated if there are a lot of unvaccinated kids around them in the community," said  Dr. Juan Dumois, pediatric infectious diseases director at John Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

And Dr. Dumois says make no mistake, going*without the shots, carries serious consequences.

"Some of these children who develop the vaccine preventable diseases will get very sick, or even die," he said.

The good news is that vaccination rates do improve as kids get into school.  Records show 93-percent of Florida kindergartners, and 96 percent of 7th graders got recommended shots last year.  And some counties are stepping up education efforts to help all the numbers climb.

"Pinellas county's been very active with that in the past couple years using an organization called PITCH that's helped promote vaccine information, and one of the effects has been an increase in our immunization rates," Dr. Dumois said.

You can view the full reports on immunizations from the Florida Department of Health here:

Here are a few highlights from major counties in the Tampa Bay area:

For children age 2:
-Over half of county health departments did not meet the 95% state vaccination goal

Immunization rates for children age 2 from county health departments in 2015:
-Hillsborough 78%
-Pinellas 99%
-Pasco 98%
-Polk 94%

In those counties:
-Hillsborough, 86% received full recommended vaccine regimine; 13% received a partial regimine
-Polk  74% full, 19% partial
-Pinellas 82% full, 12% partial
-Pasco  67% full, 32% partial

For children kindergarten age receiving vaccinations:
-Hillsborough 92%
-Pasco 95%
-Pinellas 94%
-Polk 96%

(State average of 93%)

For children in 7th grade receiving vaccinations:
-Hillsborough 96%
-Pasco 97%
-Polk 97%
-Pinellas 97%

The state department of health also points out it continues to make strides in reducing the number of students receiving vaccination exemptions, and the number of exemptions in 2015 was a record low.