Tracking kindergarten vaccine exemptions in Minnesota
Thousands of Minnesota kindergarteners will likely enter school this fall without vaccines meant to protect themselves and their peers from illness.
Driving the news: An estimated 3.7% of kindergarteners across the state were granted exemptions to required vaccines as of the school year ending in 2022, compared to 1.6% in 2012, Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.
Why it matters: Vaccinations reduce the spread of childhood illnesses — some potentially fatal — that once plagued the country, such as polio.
- Studies have found an increased risk of infection from vaccine-preventable diseases among exempt children.
The big picture: Some public health officials have expressed concern that heightened vaccine hesitancy post-COVID, combined with families falling behind on preventative care during the pandemic, could exacerbate a years-long uptick in kids skipping important shots.
- The overall percentage of 6-year-olds who are up to date on recommended immunizations has also dropped slightly since 2019, from 72% to 71%, per data released by the Minnesota Department of Health this summer.
- The cohort's 89% vaccination rate for measles, mumps, and rubella is among the lowest in the nation.
Between the lines: While the vast majority of kids do have their shots, a few percentage points can make a significant difference.
- Keeping measles at bay, for example, requires a vaccination rate closer to 95%, experts told KARE 11.
Zoom out: The nationwide median kindergarten vaccine exemption rate was rising even before the pandemic, increasing from 1.4% in 2012 to 2.6% in 2019, per the CDC.
- It hit 2.7% in 2022, the latest year for which data is available.
Zoom in: Minnesota experienced a similar trend, with vaccine exemptions spiking in the mid-2010s and inching up since then.
What we're watching: Americans as a whole are overwhelmingly supportive of childhood vaccinations, per a recent Pew survey.
- 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.
More Twin Cities stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Twin Cities.