Report Ranks Nebraska At Bottom In Infectious Disease Prepared - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Report Ranks Nebraska At Bottom In Infectious Disease Preparedness

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When it comes to being prepared for infectious diseases, a new report says Nebraska is at the bottom.

The Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the report Tuesday.

Three states tied for the lowest score, achieving two out of 10 possible indicators - Georgia, Nebraska and New Jersey.

Nebraska scored for having timely transportation for lab samples and having at least half of the state population vaccinated during the 2012-2013 flu season.

The report said the state falls short when it comes to public health funding, covering routine HIV screenings under Medicaid and five other factors.

Central District Health Department Community Health Supervisor Jeremy Eschliman said he wasn't surprised by the report.

"Some states that scored very well in the report, it's because they have strong laws or guidance documents that say you shall do this, where Nebraska, it's purely a recommendation," he said.

Eschliman said a good example is whooping cough. The report said the state falls short when meeting vaccination goals.

Eschliman said the ages the report looked at – between one and three year olds – aren't required to get vaccinated in Nebraska. That requirement comes after kids enter school.

"We encourage as much as we can because we know parents and kiddos are at risk," he said.

Eschliman said that means it's even more important that Nebraskans get vaccinated and wash their hands for 20 seconds regularly, especially during flu season.

"If you and your neighbors get vaccinated, it protects those that haven't gotten vaccinated," he said. "The more people that aren't vaccinated, the more at risk we all are."

Nebraska's chief medical officer said state officials are reviewing the report.

But, he said it doesn't necessarily tell the full story in the state's readiness for an outbreak.


Indicators Nebraska Did Not Meet:

*Increased or maintained level of funding for public health services from FY 2011-12 to FY 2012-13.

* Met the HHS goal of vaccinating 90 percent of 19- to 35-month-olds against whooping cough.

* Requires the HPV vaccine for teens -- or funds HPV vaccination efforts or educates the public about the HPV vaccine.

* State has a complete climate change (changing temperature or weather patterns/vector control/air quality/food and water safety) adaptation plan that include focusing on the impact of human health. 

* State mandates that healthcare facilities in their state report healthcare-associated infections.

* Does your public health lab have a plan and capability to handle a significant surge in testing over a six to eight week period in response to an outbreak that increases testing over 300 percent.

* From July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 did your public health lab evaluate the functionality of your continuity of operations plan (COOP) via a real event or an exercise.

* State covers routine HIV screening under their Medicaid programs.


See the full report here:

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