NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — New data is showing fewer kindergarteners are staying up to date with routine vaccines that protect them against diseases like measles and polio.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe it's due to a mix of the pandemic disrupting routine health care checkups and parents' decreased confidence in vaccines.
Kindergarten is a key year for vaccines because it's when most kids enter school systems. There are requirements in place for most public schools, but they do allow exemptions in certain cases.
CDC officials said exemptions were up last school year, but believe relaxed policies to allow families a grace period to get shots also caused some of the decreases. The vaccination rate for the 2020-2021 school year was 94% then it dropped to 93% the most recent year in 2021-2022. Doctors said this means nearly 250,000 kindergartens are potentially not protected against measles alone.
Right now measles, mumps and rubella vaccination coverage for this age group is the lowest it has been in over a decade, which means more outbreaks could be possible for diseases we thought were long gone.
To combat the decreasing numbers the CDC is launching a new campaign that focuses on educating parents on the risks involved in not getting these routine shots.