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More Florida parents delaying vaccinations

Posted at 7:58 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-27 07:29:09-04

Fewer young children in Florida are getting the vaccinations that doctors recommend.

Jennifer Perry was waiting Tuesday for a doctor's appointment with daughter Hailey at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. She's been in rooms like it a lot.

"She has a younger sister who had a vaccination that didn't take when she was 12 months and ended up severely ill. Once they found out what it was, and she was able to get a booster,  she was out of the hospital and a lot healthier," said Perry.

That experience cemented her belief that vaccines are a good thing, and all three of her kids have received every recommended shot.

"The benefits for our family, outweigh the risks, definitely," Perry said.

Across Florida, more parents are not following her footsteps.

Reports from the state show while 84 percent of 2-year-olds got all the recommended vaccines in 2015, 13 percent- only got some of them. Experts say since that's far below the 95 percent state immunization goal, there's a risk for all kids.

"No vaccine is 100 percent effective.  So some vaccinated kids can still catch a disease for which they were vaccinated if there are a lot of unvaccinated kids around them in the community," said  Dr. Juan Dumois, pediatric infectious diseases director at John Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

And Dumois says make no mistake, going*without the shots, carries serious consequences.

"Some of these children who develop the vaccine preventable diseases will get very sick, or even die," he said.

The good news is that vaccination rates do improve as kids get into school.  Records show 93 percent of Florida kindergarteners, and 96 percent of 7th graders got recommended shots last year.  And some counties are stepping up education efforts to help all the numbers climb.

"Pinellas county's been very active with that in the past couple years using an organization called PITCH that's helped promote vaccine information, and one of the effects has been an increase in our immunization rates," Dumois said.

The state department of health also points out it continues to make strides in reducing the number of students receiving vaccination exemptions, and the number of exemptions in 2015 was a record low.

Click here to view the full reports on immunizations from the Florida Department of Health.