01 Aug Private School Kids Less Likely To Receive All Vaccinations
Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Shaw: In this study, we looked at exemptions to school immunization requirements in the US during 2009-2010 school year. We found that private schools have higher rates for all types of exemptions (medical, religious, and personal belief/philosophical). In addition, states that permitted personal belief exemptions had higher rates of exemptions overall compared to states that did not allow them.
Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Shaw: Yes. We were surprised to find that private schools also had higher rates of medical exemptions compare to the public schools. As private school students are not more likely to suffer from medical conditions or reactions to vaccination that would preclude them from being immunized, this finding is unexpected and deserves further study.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Shaw: Providers should educate their patients and parents about the importance and safety of vaccinations. Unvaccinated individuals are at higher risk of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as pertussis and measles. As children attending private schools are less likely to be fully immunized, they are more likely to contract measles or pertussis, spread it to their classmates, school staff and communities. Recent outbreaks of measles and pertussis among intentionally-unvaccinated individuals illustrate this point very well.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Shaw: Future studies focusing on private and public school-level administrative procedures for obtaining medical exemptions will help our understanding of the reasons for the higher exemptions in private schools.