Vaccination rates against potentially deadly illnesses such as polio, measles and diphtheria dropped among kindergarten children in the 2021-2022 school year, extending the previous year’s decrease from pre-pandemic levels, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data showed on Thursday.
The rate reflected a disruption caused by Covid-19 and a need to return to pre-pandemic levels, according to the CDC.
Overall, those receiving state-required vaccinations declined to about 93% last year, down from 94% in the previous school year and 95% in the 2019-2020 school year.
All U.S. states require the combined diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis shot and the vaccine against poliovirus, while 49 states require inoculations against varicella, or chickenpox.
All U.S. states also require the vaccine against measles and rubella and all but Iowa require a shots against mumps. Yet the vaccination rate for measles was 93.5%, with roughly 250,000 kindergarten age children potentially unprotected.
Rising skepticism surrounding vaccinations is having a serious health impact, according to medical experts. For example, there were 13 reported measles cases in the U.S. in 2020 according to CDC data. In 2021, there were 49 cases. Last year, 118 total cases were reported.
Most of those 2022 measles cases occurred in central Ohio, where in November and December health authorities detected an outbreak of at least 82 cases of measles in children and babies, surpassing cases reported to the CDC in 2020 and 2021 combined. All of those cases were linked to unvaccinated children with no travel history.
About one in five measles patients ends up in the hospital, according to the CDC.
Exemptions for vaccinations, which may be granted by states in cases where parents request them for their children remained low at 2.6%. However, an additional 3.9% who had never requested exceptions were not up to date with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot.