Vaccine Exemptions Up In MD, Reach Record High Nationwide: CDC

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said childhood vaccine exemptions are up in Maryland. A stock photo of an immunization is shown above. (Shutterstock)

Patch manager Deb Belt originally posted this story.

MARYLAND — Routine childhood vaccinations are waning in 40 states, including Maryland, as vaccine exemptions nationwide have reached an all-time high, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

The report shows vaccine exemptions of any kind for Maryland’s 59,684 kindergartners increased by 0.4 percent in the 2022-23 school year from the year prior. As a result:

  • 96.7 percent of kindergartners received the required two doses of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella);
  • 96.9 percent received the required five doses of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis);
  • 97.2 percent received the required four doses of the polio (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis);
  • 96.6 percent received the required two doses of the varicella (chickenpox) vaccination.

Nationally, about 3 percent of the more than 3.8 million kids who entered kindergarten last year received some sort of exemption, up 0.4 percent from last year, according to the report. That left 93.1 percent protected against MMR, 92.7 percent protected against DTaP, 93.1 percent protected against polio and 92.9 protected against chickenpox.

Vaccine coverage slipped to 93 percent between the 2019-20 and 2020–21 school years, down from 95 percent. Generally, 95 percent vaccination coverage is required to achieve immunity against viral outbreaks.

The report showed exemptions increased in 41 states, exceeding 5 percent in 10 states: Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin. Among those states, Idaho saw a 12.1 percent increase in vaccine exemptions.

This is quite a jump,” Ranee Seither, CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the new report, told NBC News. Seither noted that only three years ago, only two states had exemption rates greater than 5 percent.

“There is rising distrust in the health care system,” Dr. Anna Husain, a pediatrician in private practice in North Carolina and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told NBC. Along with that, vaccine exemptions “have unfortunately trended upward,” Husain said.

Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor, told the network the politicization of the COVID-19 vaccine may have exacerbated misinformation surrounding routine childhood vaccinations.

“We’re not surprised that there was a drop in vaccination over the pandemic; clearly there is some level of surprise that these numbers have not fully recovered,” he said. “We’ve known these challenges are because of care access and misinformation and, unfortunately, some of these challenges have persisted post-pandemic.”

It’s unclear if the increase in exemptions is due to parents’ overall distrust of vaccines and medicine in general, or if they’re seeking them because they’re still encountering barriers that make it difficult to get their children to vaccine appointments. Brownstein suggested it’s a mix of both.

Shannon Stokley, deputy director of science implementation for the CDC’s Immunization Services Division, told NBC the fact that vaccine coverage hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels “is concerning.”

“It means there are children who may not be protected from very serious diseases,” Stokley said.

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When the government puts out lies and calls something a vaccine when it’s not, and people die or become ill for life because of it, yeah, it will affect other true vaccines. The CDC cannot be trusted.

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