Officials: 15% of Kansas kindergartners are missing vaccines

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas Health officials said 15% of kids starting kindergarten this year are missing one or more required vaccines.

With over 1,000 measles cases recorded in 2019 so far, the national measles outbreak hasn’t reached Kansas yet, but it has come very close.

As of July 25, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado have all reported cases, but it is not the anti-vaccination movement that accounts for most of these unvaccinated children.

“Here in Shawnee County, two specific vaccines are of concern to us that are below the 95% threshold for herd immunity that is the MMR and the Varicella both of those have seen decreases in immunization coverage over the last two years,” said Chelsea Rayburn, of the KDHE.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment conducts the kindergarten immunization assessment every year.

While certain vaccines are required, some exceptions can be made by superintendents.

“Kansas law says the superintendent, they may exclude a student for not having the required vaccinations upon enrollment,” said Craig Barnes, of the Shawnee Co. Health Department.

For example, some schools in Shawnee Co. have a 95% compliance rate, while others are at 100%.

While religious exemptions have doubled in the state of Kansas since 2010, medical and religious exemptions make up just 2% of kids without their shots.

“But in truth its more significant what we would call “under-vaccination” its children who haven’t received all of their vaccinations in a timely issue there are tons of reasons for that,” said Dr. Dennis Cooley, who serves on the Board of Directors for the American Acadamy of Pediatrics.

According to Dr. Dennis Cooley, it boils down to having a place to get vaccinated, and having vaccines in the house is sometimes limited.

“It’s not uncommon for a provider’s office to have over a quarter-million dollars in vaccines or more,” Dr. Cooley said.

As for parents, it comes down to time off of work.

“It’s a cost factor to them from their job that’s time off of work some people’s jobs aren’t going to allow it as much,” Dr. Cooley said.

Dr. Cooley also added that adult immunizations are just as important because the measles outbreaks affect everyone, from infants to the elderly.

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