Wilton schools show some slippage in immunization rates
Data released Monday, Oct. 21, by the state Department of Public Health show a 95.9-percent vaccination rate for kindergarten students in Miller-Driscoll School for the 2018-2019 school year. That is a drop from a rate of 97.7 percent in 2017-2018.
The school had no medical exemptions for kindergarten in either school year, but religious exemptions climbed from 2.3 percent in 2017-2018 to 4.1 percent in 2018-2019.
The picture was different for seventh graders where there was a 97.2-percent vaccination rate at Middlebrook School in 2018-2019, compared to a 96.6-percent vaccination rate in 2017-2018.
In 2018-2019, 0.3 percent of seventh graders had a medical exemption rate while 2.6 percent had a religious exemption for a total exemption rate of 2.8 percent.
In 2017-2018, 0.6 percent of seventh graders had a medical exemption and 2.8 percent had a religious exemption for a total exemption rate of 3.4 percent.
The Montessori School and Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy returned the survey but reported fewer than 30 total students so no data could be released, the health department said.
Vaccines taken into account were DTaP, polio, MMR, varicella, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis A.
Overall, the state is just above the federally recommended guideline of 95 percent for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations for kindergarten students at 96.1 percent, but there are 134 schools where the MMR vaccination rate falls below that threshold.
The data show a 31.1-percent increase in the number of schools that fall below 95 percent, which is considered the rate for community or herd immunity.
The overall statewide number of religious exemptions increased by 25 percent between the two school years, from 2 percent to 2.5 percent.
“The data reveal that a sharp rise in the number of religious exemptions is causing declining immunization rates,” DPH Commissioner René Coleman-Mitchell said in a statement. “This unnecessarily puts our children at risk for contracting measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. To address this unnecessary risk, I have recommended to Gov. Lamont and legislative leadership that non-medical exemptions to vaccination be repealed. This will help ensure that all children in our state can learn in a healthy environment.”
The state also released exemption rates for all students in all schools. In Wilton, the percentage of religious, medical and total exemptions are as follows:
2018-2019: 3.5 — 0.1 — 3.7.
2017-2018: 2.0 — 0.0 — 2.0.
2018-2019: 2.1 — 0.0 —2.1.
2017-2018: 0.1 — 0.0 — 0.1.
2018-2019: 2.2 — 0.1 — 2.3.
2017-2018: 1.8 — 0.5 — 2.3.
Wilton High School
2018-2019: 1.1 — 0.0 — 1.1.
2017-2018: 1.4 — 0.0 — 1.4.
Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy
2018-2019: 8.5 — 0.0 — 8.5.
2017-2018: 7.6 — 0.0 — 7.6.
The Montessori School
2018-2019: 14.1 — 0.7 — 14.8.
2017-2018: 11.3 — 0.7— 12.0.
This year so far 1,250 cases of measles have been confirmed across 31 states, including three in Connecticut and more than 1,000 in Brooklyn and Rockland County, N.Y. Details may be found at https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html.
In the decade before 1963 when the measles vaccine first became available, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15. It is estimated three to four million people in the United States were infected each year.
Also each year, among reported cases, an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles.
To view the school immunization survey data released Monday, visit https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Immunizations/School-Survey.