The vaccination rate among kindergarteners in the United States has dropped for the second year in a row, leaving school-age children susceptible to a number of serious but entirely preventable illnesses.
According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 93 percent of children who entered kindergarten during the 2021–2022 school year were fully vaccinated against preventable diseases like measles, rubella, polio, tetanus, and chickenpox. That’s a decline of one percentage point over the previous school year. It also marks the second consecutive year-over-year decrease in vaccination coverage among kids, according to NBC News.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 95 percent of U.S. children were fully vaccinated upon attending kindergarten.
Despite the proliferation of myths surrounding childhood vaccines, these shots are safe, effective, and formally recommended by the CDC for all school-age children. In almost all cases, they are required for children to attend U.S. public schools.
In a press conference, CDC officials described this downward trend in vaccine coverage as “alarming.” They also offered possible theories as to why we’re seeing these dips. It could be a side effect of parents missing routine pediatrician appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic — or intentionally using the pandemic as an excuse to swerve the vaccination conversation altogether.
Vaccine misinformation campaigns are likely at play, too. These scare tactics soared after the COVID-19 vaccine became widely available.
“We’re still trying to understand the extent to which misinformation around COVID vaccines has spread to misinformation about other childhood vaccines,” Dr. Sean O’Leary, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Infectious Diseases, told reporters.
At this time, COVID-19 vaccination rates among U.S. children are very low. The latest booster shot was approved for kids 6 months old and up last December. Despite this, the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that only 11 percent of children ages 6 months to 4 years have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccine hesitancy continues to be a serious public health concern in America. According to a recent KFF survey, 28 percent of U.S. adults now believe parents should be allowed to decide whether to vaccinate their school-age children, even if it jeopardizes the health of others. Meanwhile, only 16 percent of adults felt this way in 2019.
It bears repeating: Childhood vaccinations are very safe and extremely effective in preventing a host of serious illnesses. Parents, if you haven’t already, please talk to your child’s pediatrician about any concerns you may have surrounding the CDC-recommended vaccine schedule. It’s essential to understand the potential risks of not vaccinating your child before making that decision.
And while you’re at it, consider getting your kid vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19. This cold and flu season is no joke.
Check out these natural remedies to soothe your child’s cold symptoms this winter:
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