NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, shows vaccination exemptions rising across the U.S.
The CDC report takes a look at state-required vaccinations among kindergartners. Forty states have increased exemption rates, including Virginia.
Pediatrician Dr. Douglas Mitchell from, Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, or CHKD, joined Digital Host Sarah Goode for a conversation about the CDC’s latest report. Watch the full conversation in the video player on this page.
“It’s a trend we don’t want to see continue,” said Mitchell. “We have a goal to hit 95% immunization rate across the country, and we’re slipping away from that rather than getting closer to that is the significance of this report.”
Herd immunity happens when there is a 95% immunization rate. The 5% remaining includes people who cannot be immunized medically.
“We’ll never hit 100%, but we want to make sure we encourage vaccination in all those that are eligible, and don’t have a medical contraindicator,” said Mitchell.
Right now immunization rates nationally are at about 93%, according to CDC data.
While Virginia is trending downward for vaccinations, it is better than the current national average.
“To me, that was encouraging as I read that,” said Mitchell. “We’re better than the average in the U.S. in number of percent vaccinated entering kindergarten, and with the big important vaccines, and we’re less than the average of the number of requested exemptions.”
In 10 states, the exemption rate is over 5%. For example, Idaho has an exemption rate of 12.1%.
One possibility for the decline in vaccinations is barriers.
“Vaccination rates almost certainly went down during COVID, and some people may be having trouble getting back in to get them, and get caught up,” said Mitchell.
Increased hesitancy toward vaccines is another factor. He said putting to rest some of the fear around them is important.
Lower vaccination rates do have the power to the impact the community. One way being in crowding situations.
He offered examples. Children may be in the classroom all day long during winter months. Or, students living in college dormitories together. Those scenarios increase risk of spread of the infectious diseases.
“If we have a high enough enough percentage of people in each of those environments immunized, then we decrease the risk of spread,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell recommended speaking to a doctor about any concerns or questions you may have. Or, look up information on trusted websites, like the CDC or American Academy of Pediatrics.
“We just want to have a conversation about it and get you comfortable with vaccinating children because we are absolutely convinced the lives that it saves, and how we can improve lives by doing vaccinations,” said Mitchell.
In the conversation, Mitchell discusses the importance of vaccines, pointing to data of decreasing cases, and disappearance of some diseases in the U.S. Find more data and information on CDC.gov.
“Vaccines are safe,” Mitchell said. “If we did something that wasn’t safe, it wouldn’t be on the market. We need to have that trust that our vaccine safety system in the United States works.”
Additional resources from CHKD are listed, below:
For more information visit CHKD.org.
Watch the full Digital Desk conversation in the video player on this page to hear more from Dr. Douglas Mitchell, M.D. a Pediatrician at CHKD.