Vaccinations have been described as one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. During the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination, and the right to not vaccinate, became a polarizing and dividing issue. This report, prepared by contract for Nurture KC, provides a starting point for discussion around vaccines, particularly vaccines required for school entry from current and historical perspectives.
Key findings include:
- Immunization rates in Kansas are decreasing for vaccines required for school entry, including those that protect against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.
- All states require children attending childcare centers and schools to be vaccinated and all have at least a medical exemption for vaccines.
- In Kansas, medical and religious exemptions combined have been at or slightly above 2 percent for the last four academic years.
- Parental concerns relate to safety, mistrust, alternative beliefs, philosophical views and lack of information.
- Several bills were introduced in recent years related to vaccines and school entry, the Secretary’s authority to add new vaccines, and exemptions. In other states, recently enacted legislation includes bills related to tightening exemptions, making changes to required immunizations, and preventable disease education for parents.