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, which took effect in September 2021. The new law allows for exemptions to required vaccinations only for medical reasons and not for 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
The kindergarten exemption rate in October 2021 was 1.8% compared to 4.6% the previous year. The number of kindergarten exemptions dropped by more than half, from 523 to 208 when the law took effect. The previous school year which was after the referendum about kindergarten exemption, but before the law took effect, there was also improvement in vaccination rates from 5.9% to 4.6%. This is notable because many routine health care appointments were delayed March 2020-  October 2020 when the pandemic first struck. 

For the 2021-2022 school year, every county except Piscataquis achieved the 95% vaccination rate and had kindergarten exemptions below 5%. In Aroostook and Knox Counties, there were no students with exemptions for kindergarten vaccinations.
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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  in September 2021, for the 2021-2022 school year, religious and philosophical exemptions are not allowed.


Data Source: Maine Center for Disease Control School-Age Immunization Assessments See the reports below the map under the section, School Age Immunization Assessments.

Footnotes: The year refers to the school year where 2021 represents the 2021-2022 school year. Vaccination records are as of October 1.

The percentage of missing records for kindergarten immunization 2021-2022 is 2.1%. Maine law requires these students be excluded from schools by superintendents until records are provided. In the year before the law took effect, 21 elementary schools had missing vaccination records of 10% or more of their kindergarten students. In the latest year, 2021-2022, 26 schools had 10% or more with missing vaccination records including 3 elementary schools in Portland.

Updated June 2022.