MIAMI – According to a recent annual survey, 2% of kindergartners in school in Ottawa County have an exemption on file and are unvaccinated. Most of the exemptions were approved for personal or religious non-medical reasons.

The immunization status of approximately 92% of Oklahoma’s kindergarteners was assessed during the 2018-19 school year and the percentage of students who claimed exemptions from vaccinations was collected.

There were 447 kindergartners in school in Ottawa County in 2018. Of the 11 kindergarten schools, nine (81.8%) completed the survey, representing 400 (89.5 percent) of the 447 kindergartners.

Of the surveyed kindergartners, 87.8% were up-to-date on all their vaccines, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

“At Miami Public Schools, we work closely with our families and other agencies to ensure our students have received the appropriate and required vaccinations. At the same time, we also respect any family’s right to file an exemption under state law. Fortunately, we have not had any incidents where unvaccinated students contracted a serious disease, which would require us to provide an alternative learning environment,” Miami Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Hogan said.

“We look forward to continuing our work with other agencies and our state leaders as we strive to maintain a safe learning environment for all students.”

The survey was conducted throughout Oklahoma to assess vaccination coverage and the exemption status of children enrolled in public and private kindergarten programs. It measures the amount of students who are up to date for the six vaccines required for enrollment.

The listing provides the percentage of kindergarten students who were up to date on vaccines for polio, varicella, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP), and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Results indicate the DTaP and MMR vaccines have the lowest current coverage.

“Based on the great participation from our partners in the education system and the Oklahoma private and charter school group, we have been able to make great assessments in the last two years in understanding immunizations and exemption rates for our incoming kindergartners each year, and we hope to continue building on our participation in this volunteer survey to better understand trends throughout the state,” Mike Mannell of the OSDH said.

Mannell, an epidemiologist, works with Acute Disease Services and Immunization Services at the OSDH and oversees the annual kindergarten vaccination survey to better drive public health policy and public health improvement throughout the state.

“We always encourage members of communities to consult with their local health departments in regards to recommendations for vaccinations, especially around back to school time and flu season,” Mannell said.

Overall, the study indicates the number of kindergarten students up to date on all vaccines increased by 1% from 90.4% in 2017-18, to 91.4% in 2018-19.

Students with a record of exemption for any vaccination increased by 0.2% in 2017-18 from 2.4% to 2.6% in 2018-19.

Responses from schools represented 94% of students enrolled in public kindergarten programs and 51% in private schools.

For more on immunizations, contact the Ottawa County Health Department at 918-540-2481, 1930 N. Elm St., Miami, or visit online at https://go.usa.gov/xVC9k or contact the OSDH at 405-271-4073.