October 17, 2017
1 min read

High vaccination rates upheld for kindergarteners in 2016-2017 school year

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Kindergarteners entering the 2016-2017 school year maintained a high level of vaccination coverage, with 94.5% of children receiving all diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis doses and only a median of 2% of children listing exemptions to one or more vaccines, according to a recent report in the CDC MMWR.

“State and local school vaccination requirements help protect students and communities against vaccine-preventable diseases,” Ranee Seither, MPH, from the immunization services division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease at the CDC, and colleagues wrote. “CDC reports vaccination coverage and exemption data for children attending kindergarten collected by federally funded immunization programs in the United States.”

The researchers note that although states have varying vaccination requirements, the CDC recommends five doses of diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine; two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine; and two doses of varicella vaccine for children aged between 4 and 6 years.

To review vaccination coverage in this demographic, the researchers conducted a report that assessed 2016-2017 vaccination rates collected from immunization programs in 49 states, exemption policies in 50 states and kindergarteners provisionally enrolled or within grace periods within 27 states.

Of all children included in the analysis, a median of 94.5% received the state-required number of doses of DTaP. Vaccination coverage for MMR and varicella vaccines were slightly less, with a median of 94.0% receiving both doses of MMR and a median of 93.8% receiving two doses of varicella.

Vaccine exemptions for at least one immunization was observed in a median of 2% of kindergarteners. This percentage was consistent with the previous 2015-2016 school year where 1.9% of children had a vaccine exemption. Grace periods and provisional enrollments had a similar enrollment, with a median of 2% kindergarteners enrolled.

“Vaccination coverage remains consistently high and exemptions low at state and national levels,” Seither and colleagues wrote. “Local level vaccination coverage data provide opportunities for immunization programs to identify schools, districts, counties or regions susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases and for schools to address undervaccination through implementation of existing state and local vaccination policies to protect communities through increased coverage.” – by Katherine Bortz

Disclosure: The author reports no relevant financial disclosures.