Kindergartener vaccine exemptions are increasing, CDC says

The vaccine exemption rate for kindergarteners was 2.5 percent in the 2018-19 school year, up from 2.3 percent in 2017-18, according to CDC's most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published Oct. 18.  

The CDC analyzed state immunization data on 3,634,896 kindergartners in the 2018-19 school year. Vaccine coverage was 94.7 percent for two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, 94.9 percent for the Tdap vaccine and 94.8 percent for the varicella vaccine. 

About 2.5 percent of kindergartners had an exemption from at least one vaccine. Another 2.8 percent didn't have an exemption but were not up to date for the MMR vaccine. The CDC says if all nonexempt kindergarteners were vaccinated, 44 states could achieve the recommended MMR coverage rate of 95 percent or higher. 

Fifty percent of all states had a higher number of nonexempt, undervaccinated kindergartners than those with exemptions.  

Nationwide, 2.2 percent of kindergartners had a nonmedical exemption and 0.3 percent had a medical exemption. 

Coverage and exemption rates varied throughout the nation. The CDC recommends state vaccination programs use local school assessment data to identify undervaccinated populations and partner with schools and providers to reduce vaccination barriers.

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