iStock_000013541886LargeWith all the news about Arizona’s measles outbreak, I’m sure you’ve heard just how important vaccination is for our community.  Public health agencies study vaccine coverage data to understand how well communities are protected from preventable disease and to make targeted decisions about how to contain an outbreak. For example, if there’s a disease outbreak in a school, the local public health department may require unvaccinated children to stay out of school for several weeks (depending on the incubation period of the disease) to protect them from getting sick and infecting others in their community.

One of our best sources of vaccine coverage data comes from schools and childcare centers, which are required to report their vaccination coverage and exemption rates for 19-35 month olds, kindergartners, and 6th graders. For the 2013-2014 school year, kindergarten vaccine exemption rates in Arizona were highest they’ve ever been, at 4.7%.

Public health agencies aren’t the only group of folks interested in school exemption rates. Because of the current measles outbreak, more parents are interested in finding out whether their child’s school is has a high vaccination rate.  We just posted this data for the 2013-2014 school year.  Parents can click the link and look up their school by name.  The first tab (at the bottom of the spreadsheet) contains the whole state or you can sort by county.

This year’s report shows a noticeable difference in exemption rates between school types. Public, charter, and private schools all reported higher exemption rates than last year… but exemptions are higher in charter & private schools than in public schools.  In fact, more than 9% of charter school kindergartners were exempted by their parents. Likewise, 7.5% of private school kindergartners were exempted (compared to 3.6% of public school kindergartners).