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CDC: Most Kindergartners Vaccinated for Measles, But Not Enough

From guest blogger Nirvi Shah:

On the heels of the largest measles outbreak in almost 20 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today that among 47 states and the District of Columbia that reported 2011-12 school vaccinations, many reported high rates of measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations among kindergartners entering school last year.

But the average rate of vaccination—94.8 percent—is just shy of objectives set out by Healthy People 2020, a 10-year agenda for improving the nation's health. Healthy People 2020 sets a target of vaccination rates of 95 percent or higher for inoculations against measles-mumps-rubella, diphtheria, tetanus toxoid, and acellular pertussis, or DTaP; poliovirus; hepatitis B; and varicella.

And, the CDC said, "although statewide levels of vaccination coverage are at or very near target levels, locally low vaccination coverage for extremely transmissible diseases such as measles remains a threat to health. Monitoring MMR vaccination coverage at the local and state level will continue to be critical as long as the risk for measles importation and outbreaks exist."

In 2011, the CDC reported 17 outbreaks of measles—three or more cases linked in time or place—and 222 measles cases, most of which were cases in people who hadn't been vaccinated. It was the highest number of measles cases in any year in the United States since 1996, and it "highlights the importance of monitoring measles vaccination coverage at the local level," the CDC said.

All states reporting to the CDC require two doses of the MMR vaccine, and in two, Mississippi and West Virginia, there are no exemptions for students for religious or philosophical reasons.

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