South Dakota drops behind national rates for immunizations

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - South Dakota has dropped behind the national rate for early-childhood immunizations. The goal for young children in the state is 80%, but that number has dropped down to 70.4% in 2016.

Some believe this drop is caused by fear that parents have for certain vaccinations. But, health experts say they have nothing to worry about.

"We forget the days; you know when we had significant problems with things like polio," Dr. Tad Jacobs, Avera Medical Group Cheif Medical Officer, said. "Significant pneumonia, people have died from these diseases, and so we forget those. But, there's been lots of studies done; clearly, vaccines are safe."

Many parents are bombarded with articles saying that certain vaccines can be problematic.

"It's really where you get your information," Dr. Jacobs said. "And so many folks who really are opposed to [immunizations] get a lot of their information from Facebook or other blogs and other information."

Molly Satter is a parent and the Sioux Falls School District health services coordinator. She says that she understands many of the concerns parents have but believes there is research to back up immunizations.

"There are so many folks and doctors that support and can explain why vaccines are important and so that should really be a calming thing," she said.

State law requires early-childhood students to be up-to-date on their vaccines before heading into the classroom. But, the difficulty lies in parents choosing certain immunizations and not others.

"Parents sometimes have that concern," Satter said. "So, then they want to delay the vaccines and kind of follow their own schedule. And so, those children would be considered not up-to-date. It's not necessarily that they are not getting any vaccines, but they might be picking and choosing."

The South Dakota law does have some exceptions, exempting children for medical reasons or religious beliefs.

Satter says if you have any concerns about any vaccinations to call your doctor or a nurse in the Sioux Falls School District.