Wilton school immunization rates align with state numbers
In Miller-Driscoll School, 97.7 percent of kindergarteners are compliant with all state vaccination requirements, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. The same percentage have been vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). This is above the 95 percent that need to be vaccinated in order for students to be “relatively safe” from measles, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Similarly, 96.6 percent of seventh graders at Middlebrook are compliant for vaccinations in general, the same percentage for MMR.
This information is drawn from immunization information made public by the state health department on May 3. It is the first time information for each school in the state has been made public in a report that may be viewed online at https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Immunizations/School-Survey.
According to the survey of schools, each with more than 30 students, there were 108 schools reporting MMR vaccination levels for kindergarten below 95%.
“While Connecticut’s immunization rate for measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination of kindergarteners remains high at 96.5%, we are also seeing a troubling trend that the number of students entering kindergarten who are not fully immunized is growing,” DPH Commissioner Renée Coleman-Mitchell said in a press release. “Our goal in releasing immunization data for each school is to increase public awareness of vaccination rates in local communities.”
She said she hopes this information will lead to greater immunization rates. Connecticut joins Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont in releasing immunization rates by school.
Gov. Ned Lamont called the information in the survey, which was self-reported by each school, “startling,” adding it needs to be addressed. “This cannot become a public health crisis as we have seen in other states. Making sure all of our young students in Connecticut are safe is the number one priority,” he said.
As of April 26, at least 704 measles cases have been confirmed nationally in 22 states during 2019. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the United States since measles was eliminated from this country in 2000. There is currently an active, major measles outbreak in New York City impacting hundreds of families. In Connecticut this year, three measles cases have been confirmed and so far the state has been able to prevent a widespread outbreak of the disease.
At Miller-Driscoll, there are no kindergarteners receiving medical exemptions, but 2.3% of the students have religious exemptions.
At Middlebrook, the medical exemption rate among seventh graders is 0.6 percent, and the religious exemption rate is 2.8%.
Following is the percentage of students at Wilton schools with religious exemptions across all grade levels:
- Cider Mill — zero percent.
- Middlebrook — 1.3 percent.
- Miller-Driscoll — 0.6 percent.
- Our Lady of Fatima — 5.3 percent.
- The Montessori School — 4.2 percent.
- Wilton High School — 0.1 percent.
Following is the percentage of students at Wilton schools with medical exemptions across all grade levels:
- Cider Mill — 0.1 percent.
- Middlebrook — one percent.
- Miller-Driscoll — 1.4 percent.
- Our Lady of Fatima — 2.3 percent.
- The Montessori School — 7.7 percent.
- Wilton High School — 1.4 percent.
Neither Our Lady of Fatima nor The Montessori School were included in the statistics for kindergarteners or seventh graders.
When asked for comment, Lisa Potter, head of school at The Montessori School, said “The health and well-being of our students is the highest priority for us. Exemptions for medical or religious reasons are granted by the state of Connecticut, not by schools. Our school is 100% compliant with state law.”
Given that The Montessori School and Our Lady of Fatima have relatively smaller student populations, a few exemptions could skew the percentages higher.
The state allows medical exemptions to chldren who present a state medical exemption form and a letter signed by a health professional, such as a physician or advanced practice registered nurse saying the immunization is medically contraindicated.
Religious exemptions are granted to students whose parent or guardian claims an immunization is contrary to religious beliefs, although no documentation to support that belief is required.
Statewide, religious exemptions account for the vast majority of exemptions: 85.8 percent for kindergarten and 78.8 percent for seventh graders.
Statewide, 1,513 students entering kindergarten or seventh grade in 2017-2018 received exemptions, 1.8 percent of the student population. In 1999-2000, that number was 248 or 0.2 percent of the population.
Information on state school immunization requirements may be found at https://bit.ly/2J2BqO0 .