As we move into the 21st century, I find myself looking back at the tremendous strides our society has made to improve the quality of our lives. We live in a day and age when our children can be inoculated against illnesses that not so long ago took a terrible toll on Kansas families. I can remember as a youngster my mother taking me to the Salina Public Library to get a sugar cube filled with a polio vaccine. Before then, polio and other terrible diseases robbed children of good health, and in too many cases, their lives. Today, my daughter, Katie, and other kids of her generation are immunized at birth and through their formative years to protect them against disease.
My own personal priorities have always involved strong family ties and good health for my family and loved ones. Since becoming governor, I have carried those themes in public health initiatives and common-sense policies that have a positive impact on all Kansas families. Perhaps no single crusade is more important than our effort to immunize Kansas children against communicable disease.
As parents, Linda and I would never dream of exposing our daughter to unnecessary harm. Immunizing children is the single best way to insure a healthy start in life. Anyone with a new addition to the family knows first-hand how important this is. In the interest of public health, the state mails a card to every new parent in Kansas, reminding them of the importance of immunizing their baby and encouraging them to follow a proper schedule of well-baby checkups.
Kansas parents are responding. A recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 82 percent of Kansas children are fully immunized by the age of two. This places our state in the top one-third of all states' immunization rates. Virtually all Kansas children are properly immunized by the age of five because of school entry requirements.
This is terrific news, but it's no time to relax. Simple math shows that 18 percent of Kansas kids between the ages of two and five are missing one or more immunizations.
Now is the time for all parents to review their children's immunization records to make sure they're properly protected. If you have questions, call your doctor or local health department.
Without good health, it's tough to enjoy other pleasures in life. As governor, I want to see all Kansans living healthy and happy lives. As a parent, I know the best way to lock in a healthy future is to take good care of our children right now.