Measles, Polio Vaccinations Drop for Kindergartners

Risk for everyone from diseases that were under control increases, health officials say
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2023 7:25 PM CST
Vaccination Rates Among the Young Fall, Causing Concern
Socially distanced kindergarten students wait for their parents to pick them up on the first day of in-person learning at Maurice Sendak Elementary School in April 2021 in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The percentage of kindergartners receiving the routine host of vaccinations for diseases such as measles and polio—those for which shots were standard well before COVID-19 arrived—has declined, worrying health experts. In the 2021-22 school year, about 93% of kindergartners had been immunized for measles, mumps and rubella; diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; polio; and chickenpox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's a 2% decline from two years earlier, USA Today reports. The decline in vaccinations puts young children at risk of contracting preventable diseases and increases the danger to everyone, experts said. Already, diseases that were under control years ago are resurging.

The pandemic is one reason for the decline, the CDC said. Children missed routine visits to the doctor and may not be caught up yet, said Georgina Peacock, director of the Immunization Services Division. The rise in vaccine hesitancy during the pandemic might be a factor, as well, per the Wall Street Journal. Measles is a particular concern, health officials said. In Columbus, Ohio, 83 children have been infected during an outbreak, per CNBC, 78 of whom were not vaccinated. No one has died, but 33 of the children have been hospitalized. "This is alarming and it should be a call to action for all of us," an infectious disease expert said. (More vaccinations stories.)

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