Two of Trumbull’s elementary schools fall below the minimum threshold vaccination rate, according to report released Friday, May 3, by the state Department of Health.
The report, a school-by-school list of kindergarten and seventh grade vaccination rates in the state, was released after several reported measles outbreaks — with more than 700 individual cases of measles in the U.S., from Jan. 1 to April 26 with the disease appearing in 22 states, with three in Connecticut alone.
Overall, according to the DPH’s 2017-18 report, the immunization rate for the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine is 96.5 percent for kindergartners and 98.4 percent for seventh graders in Connecticut. The American Academy of Pediatrics has found that the state’s child vaccination rates overall are higher than the national average. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, herd immunity is a vaccination rate high enough to protect unvaccinated children. That number, 95 percent, was not met among kindergarten students at Daniels Farm School (92.9 percent) and Booth Hill School (94 percent).
Trumbull School Nursing Director Lynn Steinbrick cautioned against reading too much into the data, pointing out that the overall immunization rate in the schools, not just a one-year sample of kindergarten and grade seven students, showed that the total rate was near 99 percent.
“Trumbull schools are very well-protected, and the nursing staff stays on top of it,” she said. “They do a great job.”
At Daniels Farm School, 1.4 percent of the unvaccinated kindergarteners were exempted due to medical reasons, and 4.3 percent for religious. At Booth Hill there were no medical exemptions. The vaccination rates at other schools were as follows: Jane Ryan, 95.5 (all religious exemptions); Middlebrook, 97.8 percent (evenly split); Tashua, 98.2 (all religious); Frenchtown, 98.9 (all religious).
Christian Heritage, Cooperative Educational Services, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Theresa, and St. Vincent Special Needs were exempt from state reporting due to having fewer than 30 kindergarten students.
Among seventh graders, the measles vaccination rates were: Hillcrest, 97.2; Christian Heritage, 97.4; Madison, 99.3.
This year has had the most cases of measles out of any year dating back to at least 2010, according to the CDC, which recommends children get two doses of the MMR vaccine with the first dose coming between 12 and 15 months of age and the second between 4 and 6 years old. One dose is about 93 percent effective at preventing the disease and two doses are about 97 percent effective.
Measles is highly contagious, and CDC officials estimate that up to 90 percent of people who come into contact with an infected person who are not immune will become infected.
The U.S. started a measles vaccination program in 1963. Before that about three to four million people got the disease each year, with 400 to 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations. The disease has been reduced by more than 99 percent since the start of vaccinations.
DPH Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell wrote to school superintendents about her intention to release the data to reveal areas that have high aversion to vaccinations so that public health education can take place and because parents of children who cannot be vaccinated due to immune issues should know the risk level of encountering unvaccinated children at school.
The data are self-reported by schools to DPH and are from the 2017-2018 school year. Information is collected in the fall at the beginning of the school year and immunization rates may be higher as students come of age and get more vaccines, according to DPH. Data are collected on each child and not each vaccine, so if a student has an exemption for one or more vaccines, they are counted as exempt.
Brian Gioele contributed to this story.