Tag: exemptions

Vaccination Coverage and Exemption Rates

With record numbers of measles cases this year, lots of folks are interested in vaccination coverage and exemption rates.

You are at increased to get sick and can spread diseases if you are unvaccinated.
You are at increased to get sick and can spread diseases if you are unvaccinated.

Even though our own kids are vaccinated and protected, many of us are concerned about vaccination and exemption rates because we understand the risks.

We know that some kids are too young to be vaccinated and some kids can’t be vaccinated, as they have true medical exemptions.

Vaccination Coverage and Exemption Rates

So how are our vaccination and exemption rates doing these days?

Some states have rates of vaccine exemptions that are much higher than others, with rates from ranging from a low of 0.1% in Mississippi to a high of 7.7% in Idaho and Oregon.
Some states have rates of vaccine exemptions that are much higher than others, with rates from ranging from a low of 0.1% in Mississippi to a high of 7.7% in Idaho and Oregon.

According to the latest reports from the CDC:

  • the percentage of kindergartners with a vaccine exemption continues to slowly rise and is now up to 2.5%, up from 2.3% during the 2017-18 school year
  • an additional 2.8% of kindergartners were not up to date for MMR and did not have a vaccine exemption
  • the percentage of kindergartners up to date for MMR ranged from 87.4% in Colorado to 99.2% in Mississippi
  • coverage by age 24 months was ≥90% for ≥3 doses of polio- virus vaccine (92.7%), ≥1 dose of MMR (90.4%), ≥3 doses of HepB (91.0%), and ≥1 dose of varicella vaccine (90.0%), and are all up over previous years by 1 to 3%
  • only 56% of toddlers receive two or more doses of the flu vaccine by age two years
  • only 1.3% of children born in 2015 and 2016 had received no vaccinations by the second birthday, which is up from 1.1%
  • up to 7.4% of uninsured children received no vaccines, even though they qualify for free vaccines under the Vaccines for Children program

This doesn’t tell the whole story though.

“During the 2018–19 school year, national coverage with MMR, DTaP, and varicella vaccines remained near 95%. However, coverage and exemption rates varied by state. Recent measles outbreaks in states with high overall MMR coverage, such as New York, highlight the need for assessing vaccination coverage at the local level. ”

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Volume 68, Issue Number 41 Vaccination Coverage with Selected Vaccines and Exemption Rates Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2018–19 School Year

Although vaccination rates are generally high and exemption rates low at the state and national level, it is the pockets of undervaccinated kids that are the problem.

In Texas, for example, although state level exemptions are fairly low (2.4%) and immunization rates high, in some communities and school districts, more than 50% of kids are unvaccinated!

“The importance of achieving and sustaining high vaccination coverage across all communities is illustrated by the 22 measles outbreaks occurring in the United States in 2019, with 1,249 measles cases identified during January 1–October 1, 2019. Most cases have been among persons who were not vaccinated against measles. Pockets of low vaccination coverage, because of lack of access to vaccination services or to hesitancy resulting from the spread of inaccurate information about vaccines, increase the likelihood of a measles outbreak. “

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Volume 68, Issue Number 41 Vaccination Coverage by Age 24 Months Among Children Born in 2015 and 2016 — National Immunization Survey-Child, United States, 2016–2018

Unfortunately, we don’t see that kind of local data in the latest reports on vaccination coverage and exemption rates.

And while we should certainly work to get everyone vaccinated who doesn’t have an exemption, lots of work needs to be done educate parents that they should vaccinate and protect their kids instead of seeking non-medical exemptions.

More on Vaccination Coverage and Exemption Rates

Responses to New Vaccine Laws

As anti-vax folks haven’t been very successful in stopping states from passing necessary new vaccine laws, what are they doing now?

“In the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District, Superintendent Dr. Lorna Lewis says they had about 65 students affected by the change in religious exemptions. That number is now down to about 20.”

Deadline for unvaccinated students arrives in New York schools

Fortunately, many are vaccinating and protecting their kids!

Anti-Vax Responses to New Vaccine Laws

Not all of them though…

Some of the more outrageous responses to new vaccine laws have included looking to get fake immunization records and sending 'fake' kids to get tested for immunity.
Some of the more outrageous responses to new vaccine laws have included looking to get fake immunization records and sending ‘fake’ kids to get tested for immunity.

Some are fighting the laws.

In Maine, it appears that one group submitted more than enough signatures to get on a ballot that could overturn their new vaccine law that eliminated non-medical exemptions.

A bold response to a new vaccine law - trying to get it overturned.
Will voters in Maine overturn a new vaccine law?

How did they do it?

People said they were misled into signing a petition to overturn a new vaccine law in Maine.
People said they were misled into signing a petition to overturn a new vaccine law in Maine.

There are many reports that the folks gathering signatures in Maine misled people into signing.

Did signature collectors in Maine lie to get enough support for their anti-vax petition?
Did signature collectors in Maine lie to get enough support for their anti-vax petition?

When you actually look at the petition that the vaccine choice in Maine used, it is easy to see that it is basically a list of anti-vaccine talking points that often scare and mislead parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, including that Maine’s new vaccine law:

Kinder MEs are high in most of Maine.
Kinder MEs are high in most of Maine.
  • Eliminates parents’ ability to decide what’s best for their children. – Vaccine mandates don’t force parents to vaccinate their kids. They still have a choice, even if they don’t like what their choices which no longer include sending their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school.
  • Will harm, not help, public health. – Getting more kids vaccinated and protected does not harm public health!
  • Strips parents of their right to religious freedom. – Which religions are against getting kids vaccinated and protected?
  • Prevents a minority group from receiving an education. – Since parents have a choice on whether or not to vaccinate their kids, it is not the schools or the state that is preventing intentionally unvaccinated kids from receiving an education.
  • Those who need medical exemptions cannot get them. – Every state allows medical exemptions. Under some new vaccine laws, unscrupulous health care providers can no longer make up their own rules for what counts as a medical exemption though.
  • Our childhood vaccination rates are high. – Fortunately, vaccination rates are generally high in most of the country, but that’s not the issue. It is the clusters of unvaccinated kids that are typically the problem. At the Maine Coast Waldorf School, for example, only 38% of kids had the recommended two doses of MMR!
  • Unvaccinated children are not a risk to the immunocompromised. – This is simply not true.
  • Vaccines DO cause injury. – Yes, but the risks from vaccines are small, unlike vaccine-preventable diseases, they very rarely cause severe injuries.

What are they doing in other states?

In New York, they have tried to equate their choice to not vaccinate their kids, which is what’s actually keeping those kids from going to school, with efforts to desegregate schools in the 1960s.

It's sad that these parents think that wanting to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school compares to the efforts to get Ruby Bridges into school and other civil rights issues.
It’s sad that these parents think that wanting to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school compares to the efforts to get Ruby Bridges into school and other civil rights issues.

And while some kids are now being homeschooled, some parents continued to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school, right up until the deadline to get vaccinated and protected, hoping their lawsuits would succeed and keep their kids in school.

They haven’t so far.

And they likely won’t in the future.

Other parents, when they lose one exemption, simply try to substitute it with another.

Are kids with true medical exemptions getting denied as schools see a lot of inappropriate exemptions for things like MTHFR?
Are kids with true medical exemptions getting denied as schools see a lot of inappropriate exemptions for things like MTHFR?

Can’t get a personal belief exemption anymore? Try a religious exemption. And when they take that away, go with a medical exemption.

Of course, that doesn’t work once schools no longer accept inappropriate medical exemptions.

What will work?

Getting their kids vaccinated and protected.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

More on Responses to New Vaccine Laws

Misinformation About Measles Outbreaks in Texas

Like everywhere else, measles has been on the rise in Texas. And like everywhere else, we have also seen a rise in misinformation about measles and measles outbreaks in Texas.

Why do these folks push misinformation about measles?
Why do these folks push misinformation about measles? #JustAsking

Only three were unvaccinated? Is that true?

Misinformation About Measles Outbreaks in Texas

Actually, when you look at the official statistics, you find that there were only three cases that were known to be fully vaccinated!

Only three of the cases were known to be fully vaccinated and protected against measles!
Only three of the cases were known to be fully vaccinated!

While it is true that only three were known to be fully unvaccinated, there are another five people with unknown status who might also be fully unvaccinated.

And then there are those who are partially vaccinated, with just one dose of MMR. As most folks know, two doses of MMR provide the best protection against measles. Six more of the cases are known to have had just one dose of MMR and another four had an unknown number of doses, so could have been partially vaccinated.

And again, there are the five with unknown status. While it is possible that they were fully vaccinated, or had one dose, it is also very likely that they were unvaccinated.

What can we say for sure?

The claim that “Only THREE out of the twenty-one cases were unvaccinated individuals” in the Texas measles outbreaks isn’t true.

You could just as easily say that “Only THREE out of the twenty-one cases were known to be fully vaccinated individuals.” And at least that statement would be truthful, as it includes the caveat that you are only talking about those with known immunization status…

Were any of the cases in children attending school with an exemption?

At least nine of the cases were in children, but there haven’t been any media reports of outbreaks or exposures in schools, so I am guessing not.

That’s lucky!

Some schools in Texas have very high rates of vaccine exemptions and a case of measles could lead to a big outbreak.

More on the Measles Outbreaks in Texas

Do Unvaccinated Kids Spread More Disease?

Is this really a question?

Unvaccinated kids do spread more disease than those who are vaccinated and protected.

The assertion, by Rita Palma, that the unvaccinated don’t spread disease any more than the vaccinated is simply absurd.

Do Unvaccinated Kids Spread More Disease?

Before we get to the studies, let’s just think about this for a second.

If you are vaccinated and aren’t getting sick, then how would you spread disease?

And if vaccinated folks spread so much disease, then how do we control and eliminate diseases when vaccination rates are high?

So yes, the consensus thinking would be, of course the unvaccinated spread disease more than the vaccinated!

And not surprisingly, the science confirms that idea:

It is clearly the unvaccinated who are at greater risk to get vaccine-preventable diseases.

And it is clearly the unvaccinated who start and keep most outbreaks going.

And when they spread disease, it is often to those who are most at risk, including those who are too young to be vaccinated or fully vaccinated, and those with true medical exemptions, including cancer and immune system problems.

What else is clear?

Misinformation about vaccines is what likely scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids. Don’t listen to these folks anymore.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

More on Unvaccinated Kids Do Spread More Disease