Kindergarten Vaccine Exemptions Reach All-Time High In The Last Ten Years

(Photo by LOU BENOIST/AFP via Getty Images)

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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The number of kindergarten students who have gotten an exemption from their school’s vaccine requirements has reached an all-time high in the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The number of students getting exemptions, whether medical, religious or for other reasons, in 2012 was 1.6%, but that number has slowly increased and saw a small jump following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to CDC data. As of 2022, 2.6% of kindergarten students in the U.S. had received an exemption to their school’s immunization requirement. (RELATED: Believe It Or Not, These Colleges Are Still Requiring COVID Vaccinations)

The overall exemption rates rose slowly from 2012 to 2014 and held steady for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, according to the CDC. The rates rose to 2.5% in 2019 before dropping off during the pandemic.

The temple was one of the first sites in the state to offer vaccinations to anyone in the public. - US health authorities on Saturday cleared the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for children aged five and younger, in a move President Joe Biden greeted as a "monumental step" in the fight against the virus. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

A three-year-old receives the COVID-19 vaccination, with Moderna, at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, Massachusetts on June 21, 2022.
 (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP)

Medical exemptions in 2022 made up the smallest percentage at 0.2%, while 2.3% of students obtained a non-medical exemption, according to the data. The current Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) vaccine rate for kindergarteners is 93%, while Polio is at 93.1% and Hepatitis B at 94.1%.

COVID-19 vaccines are included in the CDC’s immunization schedule, but were not added in the exemption data.

Idaho currently holds the largest number of kindergarteners who have a vaccine exemption at 9.8%, while Utah came in second at 7.4% and Oregon in third at 7%. Mississippi, New York and West Virginia tied for the lowest exemption rate at 0.1%

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