(Ohio) – The heated debate regarding whether to make it more difficult for students to void vaccinations continues.
The focus remains on avoiding vaccinations for religious or philosophical reasons amid the worst measles outbreak in decades. However, recent reports from the Washington Post suggest schoolchildren with the previously mentioned reasons for opting out of vaccinations often submit waivers for approval and they are being outnumbered in many states by those who give no excuse at all.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a majority of unvaccinated or undervaccinated kindergartens in at least 10 states were permitted to enroll in school for the last academic year without any formal exemption. Only 27 states submitted information about the group, so the true size of the problem is unknown, officials add.
The CDC has called on education leaders to take action to ensure children are getting vaccinated, and state health and education departments regularly issue reminders. However, some education professionals note a concern that they’ll be forced to choose between educating students and safeguarding public health.
Currently, all 50 states allow students to receive exemptions from vaccinations for medical reasons. But, formal vaccine exemptions for religious or philosophical reasons have recently been scrutinized following the CDC’s confirmation of 880 measles cases in 24 states since January. That’s the greats number since 1994. Ohio has not seen any measles cases yet this year.
Of the 27 states that reported data on those opting out of vaccinations for the 2017-2018 school year, Ohio came in at the second highest with 5.3%…just behind Arkansas.
The CDC indicates a 95% immunization rate is considered necessary to achieve group resistance to the spread of a contagious disease. CDC experts note that “vaccine hesitancy” – fueled by a vocal anti-vaccination movement that argues some shots are unsafe despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary – has played a role to rising levels of unvaccinated schoolchildren in the U.S.
In Ohio, state date reflects the number of unvaccinated students is high as children continue through their education. 10% of seventh graders last year undervaccinated without providing an exemption waiver.