Report: Exemption rate at some state schools top 20% in 2018
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Almost 1,200 kindergartners in Oklahoma declined one or more mandated immunizations during the 2017-18 school year with exemption rates at some schools surpassing 20%, according to a state Health Department survey.
Figures obtained by the Tulsa World from the state Department of Health indicates around 90% of kindergartners have gotten their up-to-date vaccinations, although inoculation rates are substantially reduced at a few individual schools.
One pediatrician noted the portion of kindergartners who are unvaccinated at some Oklahoma schools illustrates a need for sustained work by health officials to accomplish the national vaccination objectives. The U.S. goal is to reach a 95% full vaccination rate.
“Exemption rates this high in certain schools and communities is alarming,” said Dr. Christopher Smith, chairman of Pediatrics at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine and OU Physicians-Tulsa.
State law forbids any Oklahoma school from admitting a student unless they have gotten or are “in the process of receiving” immunization against numerous ailments that include measles, chicken pox, polio, and hepatitis A. The law doesn’t apply to students who are likely to be safe due to previously having the illness or children exempt from inoculation.
Parents are permitted to exempt their kids from the mandatory inoculations on medical, religious, or personal grounds.
“These children are at greater risk to get one of the 16 diseases prevented by vaccines and these schools and communities are at a much higher risk for being the place where the next outbreak could happen,” Smith said.
Last week, Oklahoma officials confirmed the state’s first case of measles in the past year.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com