Two years ago Maine tightened its rules for vaccination of kids entering kindergarten of child care, removing exceptions based on religious or philosophical grounds that had previously been allowed. Kids can enter public kindergarten now without a full of vaccines only if there’s a good medical reason.
To nobody’s surprise, the result was impressive: The state went from having one of the nation’s worst vaccine rates – 4.5% of kids entering public kindergarten didn’t have full vaccines – to one of the best: a 0.8% exemption rate, which is within the historical range of medical exemptions. The Portland Press-Herald has the story.
New Hampshire has never allowed philosophical exemption, which allow a parent to leave their child and children around them more vulnerable to disease just because they feel like it. We do allow “religious” exemptions and last year the legislature made those exemptions easier to get by removing the requirement that statements from parents or guardians be notarized.
Through the start of the 2022-23 school year, according to Department of Health and Human Services, rates remain about the same: 2.7% of public kindergartners got religious exemptions and 0.1% got medical exemptions, very similar to rates seen over the past five years. In private schools, a whopping 10.6% of kindergartners had religious exemptions, also very similar to rates over the past five years.