Andrew Wakefield, Jenny McCarthy and their anti-vaccination groupies are making less and less of an impact, according to a new report released by the CDC that analyzes vaccination data on Kindergartners.
The CDC collected vaccination data from the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, and the results look like a win for medicine. The data collected looked at the rates of vaccination for three vaccines - the first two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, the diptheria, tetanus and pertussis (whopping cough) (DTaP) vaccine and the two doses of the varicella zoster (chicken pox) vaccine (for the 42 states that require it.)
For each vaccine, the percentage of vaccinated children was above 94%. (whoo-hoo!)
The coverage of the MMR vaccine had increased in 32 states from the previous year, which is most likely due a result of the measles outbreak that occurred last year with a total of 159 reported measles cases throughout the country.
Not to rain on our immunity parade, but, there was also an increase in the exemptions from the previous year, from 1.7% to 1.9%. There are three types of exemptions possible is 16 states, religious, medical and philosophical. The rest of the states omit philosophical exemptions and only allow applications for medical or religious. Three states only offer the medical exemption, California, Mississippi and West Virginia. You can learn more about your state's exemptions here.
The increase in exemptions reported may be attributed to the fact that two states, Texas and Wyoming had not previously reported their exemptions in the past, and that reporting them for the first time this year made the increase inflate artificially.
Interestingly, there was a decrease in the exemptions reported by Michigan, a state that enacted a new rule that requires parents seeking exemptions to receive education on the benefits of vaccination and the risks for vaccine-preventable diseases. The new measure enacted in Michigan was covered in depth by our own Dr. Alex Berezow and can be read about here. This suggests that these programs may be effective at quelling the number of exemptions requested, either because people actually learned the importance of vaccination or were simply deterred due to the inconvenience of going through the classes.
In the majority of states, children can attend school without a complete vaccination record for a period of time while they work on getting them up to speed. These data were also included in the report and accounted for roughly 2% of kindergarten students, but, up to 5% of students in the highest state.
Taken together, the Dr. Paul Offits of the world are winning the fight against the Andrew Wakefields. For that, we are grateful and hopeful for a future free of preventable infectious diseases.