Health officials urge patients to hold on to immunization records
Going to school in the U.S. requires vaccinations, but students in the Sioux City metro can choose to roll up their sleeves in three different states.
And, since states don't always share shot records, some doctors may not know whether your child needs the needle.
Chicken pox, flu, mumps, and measles all can be prevented by getting vaccinated. And, once you get the shot, there's a record of it. The problem is, that electronic file may not be accessible to your doctor or school.
"People think we're in this electronic data-centered world and there's all this inter-operability. We're a ways away from that," Siouxland District Health Nursing Director Linda Drey said.
Further complicating the issue, Iowa's immunization record system is separate from Nebraska's, causing problems for Woodbury and Dakota County.
"Our main problem, I think, is the fact that we live so close to Iowa that people have a tendency to go back and forth between states to get their vaccines," Dakota County Interim Health Director Linda Weitzel said.
Drey agrees the problem is evident in Iowa, she said health officials can't easily view immunization records for other states.
"If we have a family that lived for a long time in South Sioux, now moved in to Iowa, here in to Sioux City and comes to receive the rest of their vaccines, we don't have easy access to those," Drey said.
"The communication can be very difficult because of the state lines because everybody's busy. We're making phone calls, we're leaving messages. And, they make phone calls and leave messages. And, it would just be a lot easier if they could access our site," Weitzel said.
For the moment, there's not an immediate solution for the two states to better communicate when it comes to records. That's why both Drey and Weitzel urge people to hold on to their records.
"It is as important to keep that immunization record as your social security card," Drey said
"Ultimately, the responsibility is on the parent to keep these records and if you are unable to find these records and unable to keep these records and unable to access these records, then unfortunately you have to start your child all over again with the shots," Weitzel said.
The good news: a double dose of the vaccine won't harm your child's health in the long-run, but it's something Weitzel doesn't like to do.
"They're taking up an appointment where we could be giving it to somebody else, plus we don't like poking the kiddos if we don't have to," Weitzel said.
And, keeping your records in a safe place would prevent those extra pokes.
When it comes to covering the cost of immunizations, health officials suggest you check with your insurance company.
All children, from birth to age eighteen, can be covered through a federal program called "Vaccines for Children."
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