Virginia's kindergarten vaccine exemption rate ticking up
Around 1.8.% of kindergartners across Virginia were granted exemptions to required vaccines as of the school year ending in 2022, compared to 1% in 2012.
Why it matters: Vaccinations reduce the spread of childhood illnesses — some potentially fatal — that once plagued the country, such as polio.
- While children are generally required to get a number of vaccinations before attending public school, exemptions can be given for both medical and non-medical reasons (such as religious or moral objections), depending on local rules.
- Studies have found an increased risk of infection from vaccine-preventable diseases among exempt children.
Driving the news: While COVID-19 vaccination is not required for young children attending public school anywhere in the U.S., it appears that concerns over that shot may be fueling broader vaccine skepticism among a relatively small but growing number of parents — though that trend certainly existed before the pandemic.
By the numbers: The nationwide median kindergarten vaccine exemption rate was rising even before the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing from 1.4% in 2012 to 2.6% in 2019.
- It has stayed at 2.5% or higher since 2020, coming in at 2.7% in 2022, the latest year for which data is available.
Yes, but: Just 70% of Americans now say healthy kids should be vaccinated as a requirement to attend public school, Pew found — down from 82% in the pre-pandemic era.
The bottom line: We'd like to see further research before definitively saying that skepticism around the COVID shots is leading to higher childhood vaccination exemption rates — but it sure seems that way.
- As Pew put it: "Those who are not vaccinated for COVID-19 are among those most likely to express concern about childhood vaccines generally."
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