Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska members are doing a good job keeping their children’s vaccinations current.  Eighty-five percent received the seven required shots during the first three years of life.  That compares to 80 percent nationwide.

The findings come from the latest Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Health of America study on childhood vaccinations.  The study is based on a comprehensive look at medical claims from Blues plans across the country.

“When we look at our Nebraska data, we run higher than the nation,” Dr. Debra Esser, chief medical officer, said. “That’s because our medical practices in the state have been focusing on childhood immunizations, and really looking at opportunities to vaccinate the children whenever they come in.

There is still wide geographical variation in vaccine rates, where children aren’t receiving the seven- vaccine series the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend. Numbers vary from a high of 86 percent in North Dakota to a low of 63 percent in Nevada.

The study showed failure to have routine well-child visits was the most prominent reason children went without vaccinations.  

Parents refusing to vaccinate their children is on the decline nationally. Refusals decreased nearly 70 percent for children born in 2013 compared to children born in 2010 – 4.2 versus 2.5 percent respectively.

In Nebraska, of the 6,790 babies born in 2016 to Blue Cross members, only 180 or 2.7 percent refused to vaccinate their child, compared to 150 or 2.1 percent in 2013.

“I think it’s more personal choice,” Esser said. “If a parent has concerns they should talk to their physicians about it.  They can give them education and resources to make them feel more comfortable about vaccinations.”

Although the flu vaccine was not a part of the study, Dr.Esser says it should also be given to children regularly, especially with this year’s bad flu season.

It’s not too late to get the flu shot even though it might not be as effective as previous versions. Children are considered highly vulnerable to the disease.

Some protection is better than no protection.