Study Reveals Idaho A Leading Locale For Vaccine Exemptions

Jun 14, 2018

Out of the 18 states that allow non-medical exemptions for childhood vaccines, several counties in Idaho topped the list of places with the largest rates of exemptions.
Credit Indiana Public Media / Flickr

A new report in the medical journal PLOS Medicine finds Idaho is home to nearly every county among the top 10 in states allowing non-medical exemptions for childhood immunizations.

Out of the 50 states, 18 allow parents to forego typical inoculations for their kids on the grounds of religious or philosophical beliefs. PLOS Medicine finds that among those 18 states, 12 are seeing rising numbers of children that haven’t been vaccinated.

Eight of the top 10 counties with the highest exemption rates for the 2016 - 2017 school year are in Idaho. The top five counties on the list are all in the Gem State. Camas County tops the ranking with an exemption rate of 26 percent. Second place Bonner County has 19 percent with Valley County rounding out the top three with 18 percent.

A trend among the top ten counties are that many are rural, with populations of less than 50,000 people.

This graph shows rising rates of non-medical exemptions for inoculations between 2009 and 2017.
Credit Jacqueline K. Olive, Peter J. Hotez, Ashish Damania, Melissa S. Nolan

The report postulates children with a non-medical vaccine exemption for MMR – measles, mumps and rubella – are 35 times more likely to come down with measles. It also shows an elevated risk for pertussis among exempted kids.

According to data from state health officials, 86 percent of children enrolled as kindergartners statewide were up to date on their immunizations in the 2016 – 2017 school year.

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