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Health, Science & Environment

CDC reports increase in kindergarten vaccine exemptions, Ohio is above the national average

Parker McKenzie, 10, right, receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from nurse practitioner Amy Wahl with distraction help from certified child life specialist Haylee Rogers during the first COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Franklin County for children age 5-11 at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.
Paul Vernon
/
AP
Parker McKenzie, 10, right, receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from nurse practitioner Amy Wahl with distraction help from certified child life specialist Haylee Rogers during the first COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Franklin County for children age 5-11 at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control said the rate of kindergarteners exempted from school vaccinations has hit the highest level ever at a national average of 3% in the 2022-2023 school year – up from 2.6%.

Ohio’s exemption rate is just above the national average at 3.8%, which is up 0.8% from the 2021-2022 school year.

Ohio law allows students to be exempted from vaccines for medical reasons or “reasons of conscious,” which include religious reasons.

The CDC estimates about 89% of Ohio's nearly 134,900 kindergarteners are fully vaccinated for diphtheria, tetanus, polio and measles, mumps and rubella. Some others are partially vaccinated or in a vaccination grace period.

The national average for full vaccination is about 93% – slightly lower than before the COVID-19 pandemic, when the national vaccination rate was at 95% in the 2019-2020 school year.

CDC data shows only four states: Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, North Dakota and California reduced the rate of kindergarteners exempt from vaccinations from 2021-2022 to 2022-2023.

Ohio has the fourteenth biggest increase in vaccination exemptions among 49 states and the District of Columbia.

Of those states, Idaho had the highest rate of vaccine exemptions among kindergarteners, at 12.1%.

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Health, Science & Environment OhioVaccinesEducationCDCOhio News
Allie Vugrincic has been a radio reporter at WOSU 89.7 NPR News since March 2023.