The vaccine bill was propped up by media reports quoting our health department officials who claimed that either Vermont’s rates were falling precipitously, or that Vermont had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country (see: Seven Days 11/2/2011; Vermont Today 1/8/2012; NEACH 1/16/2012). Concerned parent members of the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice pointed out that these reports were not exactly true (see Distortion of Facts – here by KK).
It is important to consider that school entry is currently the “gate” through which state public health officials try to push vaccination. So it makes sense to look at the vaccination rates at school entry time, not rates in two year olds.
Using vaccination rates among children between 19 and 35 months old, before the “school gate” has been encountered, lawmakers were led to believe in 2012 that Vermont’s vaccine rate was 65 percent and this caused a lot of confusion as to motives and methods.
Let’s go back to facts. Here is what the Vermont Health Department reported to the CDC for the 2010-2011 school year:
Also, Vermont vaccination rates for 2011-2012 school year were published by the VT Health Department in the “2011/2012 School Nurse Report Immunization Data” found at http://healthvermont.gov/hc/imm/ImmSurv.aspx*.
These data again call into question the claims made by the VT DOH that vaccination rates are dangerously low and that they did not have data by vaccine or by school during testimony.
This report (closing January 1, 2012, prior to the introduction of the legislation) shows that Vermont’s school vaccination rates had increased significantly from the previous year – and use of the Philosophical Exemption had decreased.
From the “highlights of the report” tab:
- “The percentage of students entering kindergarten who were fully immunized (all required vaccinations) was 87.0%. This is an increase from the 83.2% who were fully immunized in the 2010-11 academic year.”
- “The percentage of students entering a public kindergarten who were vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and varicella (chicken pox) increased for each individual vaccine to levels higher than reported in the previous two years.”
- “The percentage of students in public and private kindergarten with a philosophical exemption for one or more vaccines was 5.2%, down from 5.4% in the prior year. The philosophical exemption rate decreased from 5.1% to 4.7% in public schools.”
US rates have also never been higher. See: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/G/coverage.pdf
To get to the Vermont data, click on this link and scroll down for Data Sources for Vaccine Coverage and then click on 2011-2012 Report Data. So, if vaccination rates were increasing and not decreasing – how can we trust what is coming next?
*NOTE: data are no longer being shared on the HealthVermont website at the level of detail they once were. However, hard copies are available here:
While the full data are not open for analysis or fact-checking (as was so important in 2012), the Health Department is releasing certain tidbits of the data to certain groups pushing for mandatory vaccination including the AAP, March of Dimes and Others. For example, data were used apply pressure to lawmakers recently (see: vtmediaplay-gray and marchofdimes and VIAN). The health department appears to be stepping back after Vermonters called into question whether it is the agency itself that is pushing for mandatory vaccination.
Communication with the Health Departmment on the subject: