Childhood vaccine exemptions have reached their highest-ever level in the United States. Health officials reported on November 9, 2023, that 3% of our nation’s kindergartners now claim exemption from school vaccination requirements.

According to the World Council for Health (WCH), people worldwide have less confidence in childhood vaccines following the failure of the COVID-19 vaccines. The WCH says in its article of September 5th, “The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that regulatory bodies, once public watchdogs are now, at best, incompetent and, at worst, have been deeply corrupted by pharmaceutical industry interests.”

In the years before the COVID-19 lockdown, 95% of kindergartners received their routine shots. This dropped to 93% for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years, though more students received exemptions this year. The CDC estimated that over 115,000 kindergartners claimed exemption from at least one vaccine last year. Though the percentage of kindergartners receiving medical exemptions has held steady at around .2% over the past decade, non-medical exemptions have increased from 1.6% in the 2011-2012 school year to the 3% reported last year.

The 3% represents the average of kindergartners nationwide, but the rates vary widely from state to state. Idaho had the highest rate, with 12% of kindergartners receiving at least one exemption. New York had the lowest exemption rate, at .1%. Ten states in the West and Midwest reported that over 5% of kindergartners received exemptions from at least one vaccine. Hawaii had an exemption rate of 6.4%, nearly double the previous year. Conversely, Connecticut and Maine saw reductions in kids receiving exemptions, which CDC officials attribute to policy changes that increase the difficulty of receiving exemptions.

Each of the 50 states and U.S. territories require children attending childcare and school to receive shots against diseases such as measles, mumps, polio, tetanus, whooping cough, and chickenpox. All the states claim to allow medical exemptions from the vaccines for children with medical conditions that prevent them from receiving them, and most permit religious or other exemptions. ICAN lead attorney Aaron Siri, Esq., recently won back Mississippi’s religious exemption and plans on reclaiming it for all 50 states.

Health officials in the U.S. want to see at least 95% of students vaccinated in order to prevent contagious diseases. These officials declared that the outbreak of measles of 2014-15 happened as a result of unvaccinated Disneyland guests getting the virus and then spreading it to others, even those who had received the vaccine. They blamed the 2019 measles outbreak, which reportedly affected about 1,300 people—the worst outbreak in the U.S. in nearly 30 years–, on visitors from under-vaccinated countries and on communities with low vaccination rates.

Interestingly, the national vaccination numbers remained unchanged despite the growing number of exemptions. The CDC’s Shannon Stokley attributes this paradox to the following scenario: The CDC’s statistics consist of numbers from three different groups of children. One group gets all the shots, the second gets vaccine exemptions, and the third group of children didn’t request exemptions but didn’t get all their shots and paperwork completed by the time of the data collection. “Last year,” Stokley reasoned,” those kids in that third group probably decreased.”

The number of exemptions will continue to rise, thanks to the work of Aaron Siri and ICAN. As of August 2023, Mississippi has already started accepting requests for religious exemptions for students. This monumental win for bodily freedom has paved the way for future challenges in the five remaining states that do not currently accept non-medical waivers.

Published November 28, 2023


Brenda Goldstein

Brenda Goldstein is a published journalist of over 20 years. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.

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