Vaccine Exemptions for Kindergartners Still Rising

From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 18, 2019 -- The rate of U.S. kindergartners with vaccine exemptions continues to inch upward, a federal government study says.

The exemption rate for one or more required vaccines was 2.5% in the 2018-19 school year, up from 2.3% in the previous year, and 2.1% in the 2016-17 school year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNN reported Friday.

In 2018-19, state rates ranged from 0.1% in Mississippi to 7.7% in Idaho and Oregon.

Among vaccine-exempt kindergartners nationwide, only 0.3% had a medical exemption while 2.2% had a nonmedical exemption, according to the study published Thursday in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"Measles outbreaks affecting school-age children across multiple states during the 2018-19 school year underscore the importance of both school vaccination requirements for preventing disease spread and school coverage assessments to identify pockets of undervaccination," the study authors wrote.

"Although the overall percentage of children with an exemption increased slightly for the second consecutive school year, children with exemptions still represent a small proportion of kindergartners nationally and in most states," they noted.

"More importantly, in 25 states, the number of nonexempt undervaccinated kindergartners exceeded the number of those with exemptions," the authors added.