Vaccination rates for toddlers and kindergartners remain high, despite a small uptick in exemptions to school requirements.
The findings come from two new reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Thursday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on vaccination for kindergarten children and children ages 24 months or younger.
Researchers collected data from state and local immunization programs around the country on kindergarten vaccination during the 2018-’19 school year.
Data showed vaccination rates were just slightly below 95% for each of three vaccines — diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and varicella vaccine (94.9%, 94.7% and 94.8%, respectively).
Twenty states reached the target MMR coverage of at least 95%, according to the report.
About 2.5% of kindergartners had an exemption from at least one vaccine, up slightly from 2.3% the year before and 2.1% in 2016-’17. Most of the exemptions were nonmedical. Exemption rates ranged from 0.1% in Mississippi to 7.7% in Idaho and Oregon.
About 2% of kindergartners had not received at least one vaccine and were enrolled provisionally or under a grace period.
“Immunization programs can use these data to identify schools and communities with high concentrations of undervaccinated students and inform strategies to increase vaccination coverage,” authors wrote.
Researchers used the National Immunization Survey — Child to look at vaccination rates for children 2 years and under who were born in 2015-’16. Data showed vaccination rates of
- 92.7% for three doses of polio vaccine,
- 91% for at least three doses of hepatitis b (HepB) vaccine,
- 90.4% for at least one dose of MMR,
- 90% for at least one dose of varicella vaccine,
- 80.3% for at least four doses of DTaP,
- 76.6% for at least two doses of hepatitis A (HepA) vaccine and
- 56.6% for at least two doses of flu vaccine.
Rates for HepA, HepB and flu vaccines all improved slightly compared to children born in 2013-’14
About 1.3% of 2-year-olds had not received any vaccines. The report also showed children who were uninsured or on Medicaid had lower vaccination rates than children with private insurance.
“Increased opportunity for vaccination can be facilitated through expanded access to health insurance, greater promotion of available vaccines through the Vaccines for Children program and solutions to logistical challenges such as transportation, child care, and time off work,” authors wrote. “Providers can improve vaccination coverage overall and reduce disparities by administering all recommended vaccines during office visits.”