Public schools across the nation require routine vaccinations for kindergarten students before starting school, with exemptions available for certain cases. However, recent data indicates a concerning trend of declining vaccination rates in this age group.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of kindergartners receiving their recommended vaccines decreased from 95 percent in 2019 to 93 percent in 2022, and there was no improvement in the 2022 to 2023 school year. This means that only about 93 percent of kindergarteners are being vaccinated against diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, and polio.
Dr. Danielle Thurtle, a pediatric hospitalist at Sanford Health, reveals that the situation in North Dakota is even more alarming, with vaccination rates lower than national averages. Despite significant efforts in the past to bring vaccination rates in line with the rest of the country, North Dakota has experienced a decline since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022.
In the recent CDC report, it was found that only 91 percent to 92 percent of North Dakota kindergarteners received their recommended vaccines for the 2022 to 2023 school year. Molly Howell, the Immunization Director at North Dakota’s Department of Health and Human Safety, explains that parents in North Dakota can claim moral, philosophical, or religious exemptions for vaccines. Since the pandemic started, there has been an increase of about one percent in the number of parents claiming these exemptions.
While Howell believes that the exemption rate alone may not be cause for alarm, the overall decline in vaccination rates is undoubtedly concerning. Measles, in particular, is highly contagious, and a low immunization rate can lead to rapid spread within a school community.
Dr. Thurtle reassures parents that it is never too late to schedule a vaccination appointment for their child and get them caught up on their immunizations. The CDC provides recommendations for vaccination schedules for all ages.
As accurate and up-to-date information on vaccination is of utmost importance, parents are encouraged to consult trusted healthcare professionals and reputable sources like the CDC to make informed decisions regarding their children’s health.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why are vaccination rates declining among kindergarten students?
The decline in vaccination rates in kindergarten students can be attributed to various factors, including parental concerns, misinformation, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Are there exemptions available for kindergarten students?
Yes, exemptions are available in some cases, allowing parents to claim moral, philosophical, or religious reasons for not vaccinating their kindergarten students. However, these exemptions vary by state.
3. What are the risks of low vaccination rates?
Low vaccination rates increase the risk of outbreaks and the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases within schools and communities. Diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, and polio can be highly contagious and have serious health consequences.
4. Can children catch up on missed vaccinations?
Yes, children can catch up on missed vaccinations. It’s not too late to schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider to ensure their immunizations are up to date. The CDC provides vaccination schedules and guidelines for all age groups.
5. Where can I find reliable information about vaccinations?
For reliable and accurate information about vaccinations, it is recommended to consult trusted healthcare professionals and reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).