Conn. Health Officials Release Corrected School Vaccination Numbers After Disputed Data | Connecticut Public Radio

Conn. Health Officials Release Corrected School Vaccination Numbers After Disputed Data

May 10, 2019

New and corrected data on school vaccination rates were released Friday after the state gave out controversial and disputed information last week.

Officials from the state Department of Public Health said they worked with school officials to identify and correct errors in a report that shows the number of unvaccinated children attending every school in the state.

The original report was released May 3—it prompted at least one public elementary school listed with a high exemption rate to claim that there had been a reporting mistake.

“I am glad we had this opportunity to update the school-based immunization data we released last week with slight corrections from a small number of schools,” Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell said in a statement.

The updated report continues to show that overall immunization rates are high at most Connecticut schools, but it now shows that some schools have significantly higher religious exemption rates than previously reported in the May 3 data.

This is the first time that the state has compiled and made public a school-by-school report of immunization exemption rates. It uses school-submitted data from the 2017-2018 year.

Information on unvaccinated children has been available on the department’s website previously, but only on county and state levels.

Coleman-Mitchell said this more detailed report will help public health officials identify areas of immunization weakness, especially as the country and nearby states like New York and New Jersey see clusters of measles outbreaks.

“I think we can clearly say at this point that although our overall percentage of young children immunized for dangerous diseases such as measles is strong, there are some pockets of vulnerability,” she said.

Overall, most students in Connecticut are immunized against diseases like measles, mumps and rubella—96.5 percent of kindergarteners are vaccinated. About 102 schools in Connecticut had MMR immunization rates below 95 percent, which is the federal guideline.

Students can be exempted from vaccination in two ways: for a medical reason with a doctor’s approval, or for a religious reason with a parent’s approval.

A group of Democratic state legislators will hold an informational hearing on Connecticut’s religious exemption Monday in Hartford.