More parents are choosing to not vaccinate their children.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 3% of kindergarteners had vaccine exemptions during the 2022-2023 school year. That was an increase from 2.6% from the previous school year.
The CDC says overall vaccination coverage for kindergartens was 93% for the most recent school year, which is below the pre-pandemic level of 95%.
Health officials warn that lower vaccination rates could lead to outbreaks of viruses that were previously contained, like measles.
The CDC says in the 2022-2023 school year, there was 93% vaccine coverage for the measles. The health agency says that translates to approximately 250,000 kindergarteners at risk for measles infection. Polio had the same vaccine coverage percentage. The diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine had the lowest coverage at 92.7%.
There are major disparities in coverage by state. New York had the highest rate of coverage among all child vaccinations while Alaska had the lowest.
The CDC said it has not identified why fewer parents are electing to not vaccinate their children.
"It is not clear whether this reflects a true increase in opposition to vaccination, or if parents are opting for nonmedical exemptions because of barriers to vaccination or out of convenience," the CDC stated.
The agency notes that once it has a better understanding of why parents are electing to not vaccinate their children, public health officials can develop strategies to increase vaccination rates.
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