CDC: Current Clusters of Vaccination Exemption May Spread Preventable Disease

October 19, 2014
Krystle Vermes

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uncovered clusters of high vaccination exemption at the local level, which leaves communities vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases.

Although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported high vaccination coverage among children enrolled in kindergarten for the 2013-2014 school year, it also uncovered clusters of high vaccination exemption at the local level, which leaves communities vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases.

In its latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC stated that the median school vaccination coverage for the required 2 doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine was 94.7% across 49 states and the District of Columbia (DC) in the 2013-2014 school year. In addition, the median coverage rate for varying local requirements for the diphtheria, tetanus toxoid, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine was 95%, while the median coverage rate for 2 doses of the varicella vaccine was 93.3% among the states that require them.

The CDC also reported that the median total rate of medical and nonmedical vaccination exemption, which makes children susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases, was 1.8%.

“Most federally funded immunization programs continued to report high vaccination coverage and stable exemption rates among kindergartners during the 2013—2014 school year compared with the 2012–2013 school year, although 26 states and DC did not report meeting the Healthy People 2020 target of 95% coverage for 2 doses of MMR vaccine,” the report authors concluded.

While state vaccination levels remain high and exemption levels remain low, the CDC found clusters of undervaccination and exemptions at the local level. As a result, vaccine-preventable diseases might be easily transmitted within those communities, the CDC noted.

“Local data are essential to controlling the spread of vaccine-preventable disease,” the CDC noted. “Accurate and reliable school vaccination assessments can provide a unique opportunity for school and health departments to identify local areas of undervaccination, even at a school or classroom level, where the potential for disease transmission is higher.”