National vaccination coverage among kindergartners was at least 95% for diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP); measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); and varicella vaccines for the 2019 to 2020 school year with exemption rates remaining low at 2.5%, according to a report published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

This report summarized DTaP, MMR, and varicella vaccination coverage for kindergartners (aged 4-6 years) reported by immunization programs in 48 states, exemptions in 49 states, and kindergartners provisionally enrolled or within a grace period in 28 states for the 2019 to 2020 school year.

Of the 4,025,574 children enrolled in kindergarten by immunization programs for 49 states, estimates for vaccination coverage was based on 3,675,882 children, exemptions was based on 3,914,961 children, and provisional enrollment and grace period was based on 2,955,220 children.


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Median vaccination coverage was 94.9% for the state-required number of doses of DTaP, 95.2% for 2 doses of MMR, and 94.8% for 2 doses (or 1 dose, as required) of varicella vaccine.

Similar to the 2018 to 2019 school year, the median percentage of kindergartners with an exemption from at least 1 vaccine was 2.5%. Of these, 2.2% had a nonmedical exemption and 0.3% had a medical exemption.

Median grace period and provisional enrollment was 1.6%. Researchers noted 2.3% of kindergartners were not up-to-date with their MMR vaccine nor have a vaccine exemption, and if more states vaccinated all the nonexempt kindergartners, 24 of the 28 states could have achieved at least 95% coverage.

Due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination rates for the 2020-21 school year is likely to be lower. Thus, “increased follow-up of undervaccinated students is needed from schools and immunization programs to maintain the high vaccination coverage necessary to protect students in preparation for schools returning to in-person learning,” concluded the authors.

Reference

Seither R, McGill MT, Kriss JL, et al. Vaccination coverage with selected vaccines and exemption rates among children in kindergarten — United States, 2019–20 school year. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;70(3):75-82. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7003a2