Immunizations- kindergartners with exemptions in Maine

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Why This Indicator Matters

Kindergarten-entry vaccination requirements have played an important role in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.  In 2019, Maine passed a law by referendum requiring school children receive vaccinations, however, it does not take effect until  September 2021. So currently, Maine allows for exemptions to required vaccinations based on medical, religious or philosophical reasons. If more kindergartners are vaccinated the chance that disease will spread through schools and communities is lessened. Achieving a 95% or higher level of vaccinations provides more protection against the spread of diseases than lower rates.

What the data shows
Looking at the overall kindergarten vaccination rate in Maine, there was improvement in vaccination rates from 5.9% in the fall of 2019 to 4.6% in the fall 2020 . This is notable because many routine health care appointments were delayed March 2020- June 2020 when the pandemic first struck. For the three counties that had exemption rates above 10% in 2019, all had rates below 6.5% in 2020.

For 2020, seven counties achieved the 95% vaccination rate and had kindergarten exemptions below 5%. These counties were: Washington (2.0%),Penobscot, (3.2%),  Cumberland (3.3%), Franklin (3.3%), York (3.8%), Kennebec (4.7%), and Aroostook (4.8%).
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Immunizations- kindergartners with exemptions

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Definitions: Kindergartners with exemptions shows the percent of kindergarten students with a written exemption on file for medical, religious or philosophical reasons for any required vaccine. The numerator is the number of kindergartners with an exemption for any vaccine and the denominator is the number of kindergartners. Beginning for the school year 2021-2022, religious and philosophical exemptions are not allowed.


Data Source: Maine Center for Disease Control School-Age Immunization Assessments 

Footnotes: The year refers to the school year where 2020 represents the 2020-2021 school year. Vaccination records are as of October 1.

The percentage of missing records for kindergarten immunization 2020 is 2.6%. Maine law requires these students be excluded from schools by superintendents until records are provided. However, a few schools have more than 20% of kindergarten students with missing records.

Updated September 2021