HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- The state’s Department of Public Health released school-reported kindergarten student immunization data for all Connecticut schools for the 2018-19 school year.
The data revealed that there are 134 schools in the state where the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination rate for kindergarten students falls below the federally recommended guideline of 95%.
According to the report, there are 47 schools that were below the 95% threshold in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school year.
See a school-by-school breakdown here.
The public schools are at 96.4%, while private schools are falling short at 92.4%.
Digging deeper, these numbers are being seen in rural areas like Windham, Tolland, and Litchfield counties.
"We don’t know why that is but it certainly points to the fact that this is not a random distribution in the state," said Dr. Matthew Cartter, of the Dept. of Public Health.
Officials also said the immunization rate data shows a 31.1% increase in the number of schools that fell below the 95% kindergarten MMR vaccination rate guideline.
For students to be relatively safe from measles, the CDC guidelines state that at least 95% of kindergarten students in each school need to be vaccinated, the report said.
“While it is good that state-wide in Connecticut we are still meeting the federally recommended MMR vaccination rate of 95% for kindergarteners, I am very concerned that the number of schools falling short of this important immunization level continues to rise,” said DPH Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell. “The data reveal that a sharp rise in the number of religious exemptions is causing declining immunization rates. This unnecessarily puts our children at risk for contracting measles and other vaccine preventable diseases. To address this unnecessary risk, I have recommended to Governor Lamont and legislative leadership that non-medical exemptions to vaccination be repealed.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.”
As vaccination numbers trend down, the rate of families using the excuse not to vaccinate because of religious exemptions are rising.
The state says last year was the largest single year increase ever so they’re trying to get on top of it.
Gov. Ned Lamont and other state legislators are calling to remove the religious exemption completely.
“The trend is not going in the right direction at this point which is why I thought it was really important that this information be released on a town by town basis,” Lamont said.
So far this year, 1,250 cases of measles have been confirmed across 31 states, with three in Connecticut.
To read the full report, click here.
In a statement on Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont said “This information needs to be available to the public and lawmakers so they are not operating in the dark as they make decisions for their families and shape public policy. I want to make it absolutely clear – nothing in the data that was released today identifies any individual student. Rather, it constitutes important public health statistical data critical to the ongoing debate on this trend, which is happening not just in our state, but throughout the country. I do not see any justifiable reason why the public should be blocked from having access to this information, and I hope it is used for exactly what we intended – to better inform people on both sides of this issue. This data shows that our state is continuing to see an increase in the number of students whose parents and guardians are choosing to not provide them with lifesaving immunizations. We need to do more to protect children against preventable diseases, which is why it is even more pressing that we work with the General Assembly to repeal the non-medical exemptions in the interests of public health.”