Broderick Hansen hopped to the exam table at Children's Physicians West Village Pointe last week for his kindergarten vaccinations without any fuss.
Among them was a second vaccine dose that protects the 4-year-old from measles. the once-almost-forgotten virus that has seen a worrying comeback this year in some parts of the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
He cried a little when the crucial moment came, but calmed down quickly when he received his kindergarten prizes. [Edit] 1
"Although the kiddos do not like shots," she said, "it's important to get them to safety."
That's exactly the message that encourages doctors and health officials, both locally and on the ground national level, as there is concern that the hard-won control of the virus may
Dr. Melissa St. Germain, vice president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Nebraska, said the national organization has been stepping up the training of doctors in recent years to help them better manage the reluctance of vaccines among patients and families.
One of the scary things about measles, she said, is that it's extremely contagious and can cause complications that range from ear infections to brain inflammation, in three out of every ten patients who get sick. In rare cases, it can be fatal for young children. And it can be spread days before the telltale rash.
Nebraska has not reported measles cases this year. The localized outbreaks reported in places like New York, Michigan and Maryland have been traced back to infected travelers who have spread the virus in island communities. A previous outbreak in Washington, which spread to Oregon, was associated with the delay in vaccination rates. As of April 11, 555 cases were confirmed this year in 20 states, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Iowa confirmed two cases last week, both from unvaccinated residents in northwest Iowa. Earlier, the last case of measles in 2011 was reported in Iowa.
Nebraska is one of the highest vaccination rates in the United States. Nationwide, the mean coverage of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine for children entering kindergarten in 2017-2016 was 94.3 percent. Nebraska reached 96.2 percent and Iowa 93 percent.
Dr. Tom Safranek, state epidemiologist from Nebraska, said that was a key reason why the state avoided outbreaks this year.
"I think people in Nebraska appreciate the benefits of vaccinations in general," he said. While the coverage is not a slam dunk, he said, "the delay in vaccines in other parts of the country was not so widespread."
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All states and Washington, D.C., need vaccines for children who go to school. All provide for medical exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nebraska and Iowa are also among the 47 – all except California, Mississippi and West Virginia – who allow religious exceptions. However, none of the states is among the 17 countries that allow philosophical exceptions.
Nebraska's religious exit rate was 1.06% in 2017-18, with medical exemptions adding another .27%. Iowa's overall default rate was 1.18%. The figure was 2.2% at national level. This nationwide figure has risen for the third year in a row, according to the CDC.
Parents seem to be watching, though they are not too worried yet, several Omaha practitioners said.
St. Germain, Broderick's pediatrician, said the parents' only calls to the West Village Pointe Clinic, asking them to extend their child's vaccination schedule, came from doctors in the medical profession.
"People are attentive, and that's good," said St. Germain.
Dr. Jason Bruce, a pediatrician and deputy chief medical officer for Boys Town Pediatrics, said clinics had some calls from parents to check their child's vaccination status.
Both paediatricians said they received more phone calls in 2015 than in three measles cases were confirmed in Nebraska. One was associated with an outbreak that began in Disneyland, California.
St. Germain said several families planning a trip to the resort that year called for early vaccinations for children under the age of one. Children usually get their first measles vaccine between 12 and 15 months and the second between 4 and 6 years. 19659002] Bruce said that infants over six months of age should receive a dose when traveling internationally, although this is not the case for their two doses. He and St. Germain said families want to talk to their doctors about early vaccination if they know they're going to travel to an area where outbreaks have occurred.
A number of people who thought they could be exposed went to their doctors in 2017 after a sick traveler visited public places in eastern Nebraska, state health officials said. No one was exposed to measles this year. However, health officials are working on prevention plans for such situations.
Doctors and other health officials continue to emphasize the need for immunization. For example, OneWorld's World Health Centers last week released social media reminders.
Safranek: "We invest so much in our medical science business, and if you find a really good solution, your heart breaks down too little.