As another school year begins, federal health officials reported today that immunization rates among last year’s kindergarteners fell just short of national public health goals.
Reports from 47 states and the District of Columbia showed that even though immunization with 3 vaccines—diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis, poliovirus, and hepatitis B—met or exceeded the 95% coverage goal, immunization with 2 other vaccines did not.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 94.8% of kindergarteners were properly vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). The low rate was 86.8% in Colorado and the high was 99.3% in Texas. In the 33 states that reported varicella immunization rates, 93.2% of the children received the recommended 2 doses of vaccine. The range was between 84% in Colorado and 99.2% in Mississippi and Texas.
The CDC noted in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that 17 outbreaks and 222 cases of measles reported last year in the United States were the highest since 1996. The agency attributed some of the increase to cases imported from Europe, where measles cases were high last year. But officials emphasized that meeting school immunization requirements is a crucial part of controlling transmission.
“Achieving high MMR vaccination coverage rates early in life, including more than 90% 1-dose coverage at age 12-15 months and more than 95% 2-dose coverage among school-aged children, is essential to maintain measles elimination in the United States,” the authors wrote.
The CDC report also noted that of an estimated 4.1 million kindergarteners entering school last year, some 89 000 exemptions from being vaccinated were granted for medical, religious, and philosophical reasons.