As reported previously, the overall statewide number of religious exemptions to vaccination increased by 25% between the two school years (from 2.0% to 2.5%). This represents the largest single year increase in religious exemptions for vaccination since the DPH started tracking the statewide data a decade ago. According to data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national rate for non-medical exemptions for kindergarteners was 2.2%, placing Connecticut above the national rate by 0.3%.
“While it is good that state-wide in Connecticut we are still meeting the federally recommended MMR vaccination rate of 95% for kindergarteners, I am very concerned that the number of schools falling short of this important immunization level continues to rise,” said DPH Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell. “The data reveal that a sharp rise in the number of religious exemptions is causing declining immunization rates. This unnecessarily puts our children at risk for contracting measles and other vaccine preventable diseases. To address this unnecessary risk, I have recommended to Governor Lamont and legislative leadership that non-medical exemptions to vaccination be repealed. This will help ensure that all children in our state can learn in a healthy environment.”
The data DPH released today include a revised 96.1% statewide kindergartener MMR vaccination rate that is based on the revised data DPH received from Connecticut schools after reaching out to schools with lower than expected immunization rates to determine the accuracy of the reported figures. The public school kindergarten student MMR vaccination rate is 96.4%, and the private school kindergarten student MMR vaccination rate is 92.4%. The final percentage of religious exemptions to vaccination statewide remained unchanged at 2.5%
High vaccination rates protect not only vaccinated children but also those who cannot or have not been vaccinated. This is called community immunity or herd immunity. Schools that achieve community immunity reduce the risk of outbreaks. High vaccination rates at schools are especially important for medically fragile children. Some children have conditions that affect their immunity, such as illnesses that require chemotherapy. These children cannot be safely vaccinated, and at the same time, they are less able to fight off illness when they are infected. They depend on community immunity for their health or even their lives. For students to be relatively safe from measles, the CDC guidelines state that at least 95% of kindergarten students in each school need to be vaccinated.
“Parents should discuss any questions or concerns about vaccines or vaccine safety with their child’s pediatrician or primary care physician,” said DPH Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell. “We need to work to ensure that every school in Connecticut achieves the CDC vaccination rate guideline to keep diseases, such as measles, from spreading in our children’s schools.”
This year so far 1,250 cases of measles have been confirmed across 31 states, including 3 in Connecticut and more than 1,000 in Brooklyn and Rockland County, NY:
In the decade before 1963 when the measles vaccine first became available, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. It is estimated 3 to 4 million people in the United States were infected each year. Also each year, among reported cases, an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles.
Click here to view the school immunization survey data released today:
For more information about vaccine-preventable diseases, please visit:
Anyone with questions regarding the State of Connecticut immunization program can call 860-509-7929 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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