State health improving with flu shots

Friday, September 5th 2008, 6:31 pm
By: News 9

By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9

OKALHOMA CITY -- It's that time of year when people get ready to roll up their sleeves for an annual flu shot.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday has positive news about the state of Oklahoma when it comes to immunization. The study states about 79 percent of Oklahoma children age 19-months-old through 35-months-old were fully immunized against 10 deadly diseases.

Oklahoma ranks 15th in the nation when it comes to vaccinating children and experts said it is a huge improvement considering the 2004 ranking of 48th.

With the worry of a national shortage of flu vaccine last flu season, also came another concern. Health officials said parents were reluctant to get their children vaccinated.

"There are some parents who are concerned. We definitely know that autism rates are increasing in the state in general,"Blose said.

Immunization director Don Blose with the Oklahoma State Department of Health said there is no scientific study with shots directly linked to autism.

"Vaccines are very safe," Blose said. "Vaccines have not been linked to autism, directly, through any real science."

So when the CDC report showed Oklahoma step up in the ranks to 15th place in 2007, up seven spots from the previous year, experts said it's a sure sign that the state's overall health is improving.

"We want our kids to be healthy," Blose said. "We want our kids to be safe from these diseases in this day and age. We've forgotten how deadly these diseases are, but a choice not to be vaccinated is a choice for one of these diseases to return."

Experts said they can't stress how important it is to get flu shots especially for children and the elderly.

Many private doctors already carry them and the Oklahoma State Department of Health will start vaccinations in mid-October. Those immunization covered on the report also included measles, whooping cough and hepatitis B.