by Mary Rupert
The latest statistics from the Kansas Kids Count survey show a need for more vaccinations for children, including kids in Wyandotte County.
“We’re seeing a decrease in the number of kids who are getting their vaccinations on time,” said Christie Appelhanz, vice president of public affairs, Kansas Action for Children, about the statewide numbers. The survey results were released this week.
The state average has dropped to 61 percent, down from 72 percent in 2012, according to the survey. That reversed a trend from 63 percent in 2009 to 72 percent in 2012.
Wyandotte County is below the state average, with 53 percent of children getting immunizations on time, Appelhanz said.
“Wyandotte County actually has improved slightly in the last five years (on immunization rates),” she said. “It’s up 1.4 percent, very slightly. It’s still below the state average and below where we need to stay healthy.”
Appelhanz said there is a national trend of parents opting out of getting their children vaccinated, but she believes there is a lot of misinformation in society about vaccinations.
“All the scientific evidence says it prevents dangerous disease, prevents illness and even death,” she said. There have been reports around the nation about an increase of diseases that can be prevented by timely vaccinations, she added.
While there is misinformation about vaccinations, if parents ask medical professionals and consult scientific research, they will find that vaccinations are safe, effective and save lives, she said.
According to the study’s findings, poverty may continue to be Wyandotte County children’s greatest challenge, she said.
“This is the first year that free and reduced school lunches went over the 50 percent mark for the state of Kansas,” she said. “In Wyandotte County, 80 percent of public school children are participating in the free and reduced lunch program, which is a sign of the poverty that children in Wyandotte County are experiencing.”
While not statistically significant, a 1 percent increase in Wyandotte County’s free and reduced lunches shows that the trend is moving in the wrong direction, she added.
“One thing that’s good news for child well-being in Wyandotte County is the percentage of elementary schools that offer full-day kindergarten,” she said.
Ninety-two percent of public elementary schools in Wyandotte County offer full-day kindergarten, compared to 86 percent in the state of Kansas, she said.
“This is a great opportunity for children to be on the path to school success,” she said.
In the past few years, Wyandotte County has implemented several programs designed to improve health in the community.
“There are great efforts going on in Wyandotte County,” Appelhanz said. “Change doesn’t typically happen overnight. That is probably something we would look for in the data for the years to come.”
Several other areas are covered by the Kids Count survey. To see more of the survey results, visit kac.org/kidscount.