Kindergarten Vaccination Rates Dropped in 2020-21 School Year
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a drop in kindergarten vaccinations during the 2020-21 school year, the first full school year after COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and remote schooling began in Mar. 2020.
Specifically, kindergarten vaccination drops were seen in MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), DTap (diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough), and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines. Missed well-child checkups during the pandemic are partially to blame for the drop, according to the CDC, because parents avoided taking their young children to public places, especially those where they might come into contact with sick children like doctors’ offices.
The data shows a 1% drop, from 95% coverage to 94%, which accounts for at least 35,000 more un- or under-vaccinated children, according to CDC guidelines. Kindergarten enrollment also dropped 10%, meaning the overall vaccination drop may be higher if the approximately 400,000 unenrolled children are also behind on CDC-recommended vaccinations.
While vaccination rates have dropped, the CDC has not reported any major outbreaks of diseases covered by the vaccines during the pandemic, perhaps due to stay-at-home measures. Also, the CDC did not find evidence of more parents seeking vaccine exemptions nationally.
1. Should vaccines be required for children to enter kindergarten? Why or why not?
2. Most kindergarteners are 5 years old. The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone ages 5 and older. Should states add the COVID-19 vaccine to kindergarten requirements? Explain your answer.
3. Should employers be able to mandate vaccines? Why or why not?
1. Virginia Langmaid, “Childhood Vaccination Rates Fell in Kindergartners Last School Year, CDC Data Shows,” cnn.com, Apr. 21, 2022
2. Ranee Seither, et al., “Vaccination Coverage with Selected Vaccines and Exemption Rates Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2020–21 School Year,” cdc.gov, Apr. 22, 2022
3. Krista Mahr, “CDC: Kindergarten Vaccination Rates Drop across the U.S.,” politico.com, Apr. 21, 2022
4. Benjamin Mueller and Jan Hoffman, “Routine Childhood Vaccinations in the U.S. Slipped During the Pandemic,” nytimes.com, Apr. 21, 2022