Immunization rates for kindergarteners and 7th graders drop in Florida, 10-year low last school year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health has revealed new details about rates of required immunizations for Florida’s kindergarten and seventh-grade students.


The report, which you can view by CLICKING HERE shows that last school year marked a more than 10-year low for students in both grade levels completing all doses of required immunizations.

“We really want to make sure we get back to that 95 (percent) immunization rate,” said Action News Jax’s medical expert, Dr. Michelle Aquino.

Related Story: Florida school immunization rates for kindergartners, 7th graders slide to 10-year low

Statewide, 91.7% of kindergarten students completed the immunizations required while 94.3% of seventh graders did.

Eighteen of Florida’s 67 county districts, or 27% of all Florida school districts, met or surpassed the 95% “coverage goal.”

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In nine districts, fewer than 90% of kindergarten students completed their shots. Those districts were in Duval, Escambia, Gadsden, Indian River, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Putnam and Sarasota counties.

Aquino said if your child misses an immunization, there are alternate schedules that the pediatrician has so that they can still get on the path to getting fully immunized as needed.

“When the kids are immunized at 95% of their population, we do not see breakthrough cases of measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria, pertussis. We don’t see any of that,” Aquino said.

In Duval County, 89.5% of kindergarteners were up-to-date last school year.

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That number is even lower among seventh graders, at 84.3%.

In Putnam, 89.7% of kindergarteners received the required vaccinations.

Aquino described how crucial the 95% immunization rate is.

“That is really, really a scary number because you get down to that 1% or down to 90%, and you’re going to start seeing measles. You’re going to start seeing pertussis. These things kill kids,” Aquino said.

She and other health officials believe that the rates dropped because of COVID and lack of access to medical care.

Jinicka Campbell is the mother of a first- and a third-grade student.

“I really look at it more so holistically for safety — not just of my kids, but of other kids as well,” Campbell said.

One woman Action News Jax spoke with off-camera said she does not agree with vaccinating her children. “Not my children,” she said.

CLICK HERE for a list of the required immunizations.

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“I think we look at vaccination and things like that from an individual mindset, but it affects the masses,” Campbell said. “So what does it look like and how are you going to affect the other kids that may have more severe health issues and things of that nature by not vaccinating your kids?”

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