“Pockets of children who miss vaccinations exist in our communities and they leave these communities vulnerable to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters in a media briefing.
Lawmakers in at least 10 states including California are making efforts to tighten school vaccination exemption rules after a measles outbreak at Disneyland in Anaheim sickened more than 100 people earlier this year.
All states require a schedule of vaccines that a child must have before he or she can be enrolled in school. Every state allows exemptions from vaccines for medical reasons, and all but Mississippi and West Virginia allow exemptions for religious reasons.
Because U.S. measles vaccination rates are high, at 94 percent among kindergarten-age children, the Disney outbreak was less of a problem than in Canada, Schuchat said.
“We were lucky in the U.S. We didn’t see large outbreaks in schools,” she said, adding that in one province in Canada, there were more than 100 measles cases from the Disney exposure “because of a big pocket of undervaccinated people.”