Routine Childhood Vaccination Rates Declining in the US
The United States’s immunization rate for kindergarteners fell to 93% during the 2021-2022 school year. Just 93.5% of kids in this age group received the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine, marking the lowest rate in the last 10 years. This gap in vaccine coverage leave nearly a quarter of a million children at risk of a measles infection. The national vaccination rate was 93.1% for the DTap (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis), 93.5% for polio and 92.8% for varicella. While these levels may seem sufficient, some viruses require an extremely high vaccination rates to reach herd immunity. Because measles is exceptionally contagious, the community needs to reach 95% vaccination coverage to ensure protection from the virus. Furthermore, large inequities in vaccination coverage exist between different income levels, races, insurance statuses and geographic location. The percentage of uninsured kids not vaccinated by age 2 was eight times higher than it was for children with private insurance. Young children from low-income families and those who live in rural areas are also less likely to be vaccinated than the US population as a whole. When communities have lower vaccination rates, disease outbreaks are more likely to occur. These pockets of under-vaccination has led to an uptick in measles outbreaks in recent years.