DHW: Idaho leads nation in immunization exemptions

Here’s some news to think about now that kids are heading back to school: According to the Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho now leads the nation in immunization exemptions for kindergartners.

The immunization exemption percentages vary by county, with high numbers in north Idaho. In Bonner County, which includes Sandpoint, 20 percent of kindergartners have exemptions. In Clark County (which has a much smaller population), zero percent have exemptions. Twin Falls and Power counties also have comparatively few exemptions.

One important note: An exemption doesn’t mean a student has zero immunizations. According to the Department of Health and Welfare’s post, “(a)lmost all children with exemptions have received vaccines, but are not current with the school recommendations.” Parents might request exemptions because they’re behind on one or two shots, or because they have reservations about specific vaccinations, according to the department.

Earlier this year, Audrey Dutton of the Idaho Statesman wrote about exemptions in the Treasure Valley. You can see her article here. The write-up includes an interactive map with individual school exemption data.

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