Officials at the North Dakota Department of Health are encouraged that vaccination rates for kindergartners have increased.
Lexie Barber is Immunization Surveillance Coordinator with the health department. She says in the last two years, vaccination rates had fallen below 90 percent and had gotten as low as 88 percent. But she says for the 2017-2018 school year, vaccination rates have climbed to 94 percent. She says the health department aims for a 95 percent immunization rate to ensure maximum protection from disease.
"With different diseases you have to weigh a few different factors - like how infectious a disease is, how well the vaccine works, things like that - but the number they've come up with is 95 percent for a disease like measles that's really infectious. So when you hit that 95 percent in a community, that's really going to be what stops a disease from spreading once it's introduced."
Barber says low vaccination rates could possibly be attributed to a lot of children not being accounted for when it came to their vaccine records. She says the health department has been working on efforts to increase awareness of the importance of vaccinations, while schools have been working harder to make sure those records are on file and up to date.