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Editorial: NM shoots to top of a very good children’s list

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In a state where bad news regarding children’s welfare is de rigueur, it’s thrilling to know New Mexico is at the forefront in protecting its kids against an illness that kills thousands of Americans annually.

The flu.

Federal data show around 67 percent of children 17 and younger in the Land of Enchantment got flu vaccinations during the 2013-14 flu season – which can begin as early as October and occur as late as May. That’s compared to the U.S. rate of 57 percent.

Credit is being given to the state Department of Health’s school immunization program, which started in 2008 at 70 schools and has grown each year. It’s funded primarily with federal dollars and means parents not only don’t have to pay out of pocket for flu vaccines, they don’t have to figure out how to get their children to a clinic.

Investing in immunizing children is important to limiting influenza cases; kids are considered flu “vectors” that “get it, they spread it, they bring it home to mom and grandpa and grandma.” Anna Pentler, executive director of the New Mexico Immunization Coalition, says “a lot of the kids who go through our school clinics probably would not be vaccinated otherwise. The general sense is that there has been less flu in New Mexico since we started doing the school-based clinics.”

Less flu means fewer missed work and school days, fewer medical bills, and more physical and economic health. And that’s an equation that adds up for New Mexico’s kids and their families.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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