Kindergarteners’ Vaccination Levels Close, But Not Quite, To Target Levels
Most kindergarteners are up to date on their vaccines, according to a new study, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, while vaccination levels are very close to target goals, they still fall short, researchers said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at data from 49 states and the District of Columbia for the 2011-2012 school year and compared them to the Healthy People 2020 goal, a 10-year initiative that aims to have 95 percent of kids vaccinated by 2020.
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For kindergarteners', three vaccines, polio, hepatitis B, and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP), met the goal of 95 percent coverage. However, the vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and varicella (chickenpox), fell short.
The lowest vaccine rate was in Colorado, which had a MMR vaccine coverage at 86.6 percent. Texas had the highest, at 99.3 percent.
But even though statewide vaccination levels are close to the goal, groups of unvaccinated children pose a threat for diseases such as pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and measles.
"It is of concern when we have these communities in the United States where there's enough people who have made this decision [not to vaccinate] that if the measles virus is imported from overseas, that it could actually spread and cause an outbreak," Dr. Melinda Wharton, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told Reuters.
Vaccination exemptions have increased in the past few years. Alaska had the highest exemption rate at 7 percent, while Mississippi had the lowest at 0.1 percent.
Some parents choose not to vaccinate due to safety concerns, saying that vaccines cause autism. But researchers say there is no evidence of that being true.
"Based on all the science that has been done to date, and there's been a lot of it, there's no evidence that vaccines are a causal factor," Wharton said.
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