Ohio the only one of 50 states without immunization law for youngest kids

9:58 AM, Aug 13, 2013   |    comments
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For very young children who go to preschool or daycare, the fact that they live in Ohio puts them at a special risk.

While most kids would prefer not to go to the doctor's office and get their vaccination shots, most parents have them do it anyway. It's required by law once the kids are school age.

But that's not the case for daycare or preschool.

As Channel 3 has learned, Ohio does not require vaccinations for preschoolers. And Ohio is the only state in the country that doesn't.

Le Chaperon Rouge operates nine preschool programs locally. They encourage immunizations and can't understand why Ohio doesn't make them mandatory.

"They should change it immediately because why should we be so different?" asks Stella Moga-Kennedy, CEO of Le Chaperon Rouge. "It doesn't help anybody and doesn't help the children."

Erin Williams is a mother of two toddlers and a public school teacher, and she knows how easily kids catch illnesses from each other.

"I just believe that immunization is the right thing to do," Williams says. "Somebody's always getting sick."

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health says Ohio needs to pass a law to keep it from being the sole state without one. 

Cindy Modie, supervisor of the Board of Health's vaccine prevention clinic, points out that some diseases are making a comeback because not all preschoolers who should be are immunized.

Whooping cough is one such disease. 

"It is very deadly for infants," she says. "And they are sort of sitting ducks in daycare."

Other diseases that unimmunized babies or toddlers are at risk for are hemophilus influenza Type B, which in infants can lead to meningitis, and rotavirus, which can cause severe dehydration in babies -- and that could be deadly.

These are three of the 14 vaccinations that the Center for Disease Control says preschoolers must get. And some preschools or daycare centers have their own rules insisting on it.

"I just assume because for schools it is required, that everywhere that kids would be in close quarters it would be required," says Jessica Milter, a mother of two.

Young children easily share germs with each other. Eating and playing are all opportunities for an illness to quickly spread.

But some parents are less worried about that then they are about the vaccines.

"It's full of ingredients, full of toxins, which are bad, then when they're put together, they want you to believe they're safe," says Kate Christian, who has both a teenager and a toddler.

Other parents and grandparents are pushing for mandatory immunizations, as is the county Board of Health.

Some of Ohio's infectious disease experts say it's long past time for Ohio to require immunizations for child care and pre-school settings. Those same people want to create a state immunization registry and say the lives of our most vulnerable kids depend on it.

The Ohio Department of Health, though, says enough kids are being vaccinated now, so they aren't sure the state needs a law.

Their records show an estimated 71 percent of all preschoolers are being vaccinated.


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