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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 4, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Children’s health care

Vaccines on the chopping block

Washington lawmakers lauded our State Children’s Health Program (SCHIP) this weekend, hailing it as the best in the nation [“A partner in kids’ health,” Local News, Feb. 1]

While we may have the best state-subsidized children’s health-insurance program, Washington has one of the worst child-immunization rates in the country. In on-time childhood immunizations, Washington ranks 39th according to the 2008 Healthiest State Report Card, the Institute of Medicine and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state’s goal of universal coverage for kids by 2010 is inspiring; it is the right thing to do. We are hopeful that Washington will continue to lead in this area, thanks to the determination of our leaders.

But, what is the plan to ensure these kids actually receive care, especially when the state’s universal-purchase program for vaccines is on the chopping block? And, how will the state educate parents to ensure that children receive the right care, at the right place, at the right time?

We encourage our state leaders to be certain that the SCHIP expansion includes coverage for vaccines. We encourage them to do more to educate the public about vaccine safety. And we encourage them to implement a training schedule for the school employees and health personnel who implement immunization policies.

Washington is, and should be, a leader in health. Addressing our state’s low immunization rate will go a long way toward healthy kids and a healthy state.

— Greg Vigdor, Seattle

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