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South Dakota Rejects Hysteria, Vaccinates Lots of Kindergartners

I hear far too many of my conservative friends falling for the anti-vaccine fad. Don't be stupid: vaccines are not some insidious child-killing plot. Vaccines are, in the words of one molecular biologist working on a vaccine for malaria, "the single greatest invention of humankind." I give hyperlinks a close second... but hyperlinks didn't make 50 million annual cases of smallpox disappear.

Thankfully, South Dakotans in general aren't buying the anti-vaccine hysteria. The state Department of Health says our kindergarten immunization rates are among the highest in the nation:

The CDC surveyed immunization records for 12,468 South Dakota kindergarten students for the 2012-2013 school year and found:

  • 97.9% were fully immunized for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella);
  • 97.7% were fully immunized for DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis);
  • 96% were fully immunized for varicella (chickenpox); and
  • just 0.3% had a medical exemption for vaccination and another 1.5% claimed a religious exemption.

“South Dakota parents and vaccine providers do a great job of getting kids the shots they need for school entry,” said Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “These high vaccination rates prevent disease from spreading and protect people with medical conditions that keep them from getting vaccinated” [South Dakota Department of Health, press release, 2013.08.06].

Word, Lon! I don't like needles, but I know kids need those shots to beat down diseases and keep everyone healthy.


  1. Kevin Weiland 2013.08.08

    The good of the many over the zealot few. It is our responsibility as citizens of this country to do everything we can to ensure a healthy society, and that includes sharing the responsibility by obtaining health insurance after October 1st, as proposed with the Affordable Care Act.

  2. Rachel 2013.08.08

    I'm a pro-lifer in this case! People *died*, went blind, were paralyzed, from these awful diseases, hence the need for vaccines. Don't get me wrong. It's awful to go in there and make my little one get 4 shots at once (had I known, I'd have had a little chat with my doc and had them spread out). But, she was over it in about 15 minutes. And, I know she won't die horribly of something that I could have prevented.

  3. Joan 2013.08.08

    Rachel, besides the complications you listed there were people that had to live their lives in an iron lung, and then in more recent years the people that survived polio with no complications have all of a sudden started developing something like post polio symptoms. As the mother of an adult mentally handicapped daughter, I would rather risk having a child that was autistic, than what the other complications could be. I would never put any kid through having so many vaccines at one time. When my oldest daughter had to have a booster shot before starting kindergarten, the doctor came into the exam room with the syringe and asked my daughter if there were a lot of flies on the ceiling and she was so busy looking for the flies, that the shot was over with before she knew what was happening. Back then, especially in small towns the doctors did give shots. His wife was his nurse/receptionist.

  4. Douglas Wiken 2013.08.08

    Now, let's get South Dakota in step with neighbors and allow clinics and drugstores to do pneumonia inoculations. For senior citizens, Medicare/medicaid will pay full amount. No sense giving overworked doctors an extra $100 for the 30 seconds they spend checking the thickness of our wallets.

  5. My son got his kindergarten shots today! Four shots, one in each limb, but the nurse does a good job ... it was honestly harder to get him to take the Tylenol before the appointment.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.08.09

    Douglas, does state law prohibit giving the pneumococcal vaccine outside the doctor's office? Why that restriction?

  7. Nick Nemec 2013.08.09

    Pneumonia vaccinations can be done outside a doctors office or clinic. My wife and daughter, both registered nurses, have picked up extra hours by giving the shots at Walgreens on their days off from their regular job. It's easy seasonal work for a nurse and pays a better hourly rate than their regular job, no benefits.

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