The number of kindergarten students who have gotten an exemption from their school’s vaccine requirements has reached an all-time high in the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The number of students getting exemptions, whether medical, religious or for other reasons, in 2012 was 1.6%, but that number has slowly increased and saw a small jump following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to CDC data. As of 2022, 2.6% of kindergarten students in the U.S. had received an exemption to their school’s immunization requirement.
The overall exemption rates rose slowly from 2012 to 2014 and held steady for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, according to the CDC. The rates rose to 2.5% in 2019 before dropping off during the pandemic.
Medical exemptions in 2022 made up the smallest percentage at 0.2%, while 2.3% of students obtained a non-medical exemption, according to the data. The current Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) vaccine rate for kindergarteners is 93%, while Polio is at 93.1% and Hepatitis B at 94.1%.
COVID-19 vaccines are included in the CDC’s immunization schedule, but were not added in the exemption data.
Idaho currently holds the largest number of kindergarteners who have a vaccine exemption at 9.8%, while Utah came in second at 7.4% and Oregon in third at 7%. Mississippi, New York and West Virginia tied for the lowest exemption rate at 0.1%
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