Missouri vaccinations for school children gradually declining

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The number of kids in Missouri getting all required vaccinations is gradually falling.

Percentages of fully immunized students in Missouri, grades K-12, in both public and private schools

Jordan Valley Community Health Center gives thousands of vaccines to kids heading back to school. But more and more parents are choosing to sign a religious exemption form instead of getting their child the required shots.

The required vaccinations come before kindergarten, eighth-grade, and a student's senior year of high school. The vaccinations protect kids from a wide variety of diseases like polio, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis, measles and meningitis.

Statewide, the number of students getting all the recommended shots is still around 97 percent to 98 percent, varying by the vaccine. But over the last four years in Missouri, the number of kids getting the required shots has fallen by tenths of a percentage each year for six of the seven vaccine series.

Some kids have a medical reason for not getting the vaccines and get an exemption from their doctor. But Springfield Public Schools health officials say they are seeing few of those and many religious exemption forms.

Springfield Public Schools says should an outbreak of one of the diseases happen, students who are not appropriately vaccinated would be excluded from school for as long as 30 days. The district wants to make sure parents carefully consider vaccinating their children.

"Parents might be confused; should I vaccinate or should I not, and we went want to encourage them to talk to their medical provider, the health department, or they're certainly welcome to talk to the school nurse," said Jean Grabeel, Director of Health Services for Springfield Public Schools.

We reached out to those against vaccines, contacting both state and national organizations, but got to response. Some of our viewers commented on Facebook that they have concerns about the safety of vaccines, but none agreed to talk to KY3 News.

Click HERE to see county-by-county school immunizations.