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CDC report shows that Idaho kindergartners have lower vaccination rates

In a new report, Idaho ranks near the bottom when it comes to vaccine rates for kindergarten students.

A new report published by the Center for Disease Control shows that Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates for kindergarteners in the country.

Data shows that about 89 percent of Idaho students enrolled in kindergarten are vaccinated for MMR, DTaP and varicella.

The CDC report includes data from 99.6 percent of Idaho kindergarten students.

In the state of Idaho, students are supposed to get vaccinated before enrolling in school.

But the state does allow parents to send unvaccinated students to school if they file an exemption form with the school.

The new CDC report examines that slightly growing trend.

Rafe Hewett, program manager of the immunization program at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, says they simply advise parents to get their kids vaccinated.

"Vaccines do work, and that's why we encourage them," said Hewett.

Hewett adds that the new data from the CDC isn't too different from years past.

"What we did see with the school data, a lot of that data did remain flat line to years past, our exemption rate trends up a little bit," said Hewett.

In the last year, Idaho's vaccination exemption rate for students enrolled in kindergarten went from 6.5 percent to 7.1 percent.

Sara Brady, an Idaho mom and a member of Health Freedom Idaho’s executive committee, chooses not to vaccinate her children.

"I never had my children vaccinated, I personally had chosen to do vaccines and had some unpleasant experiences, so I choose not to," said Brady.

To send their kids to school, Idaho schools only require parents like Brady to fill out an exemption indicating their personal choice to not vaccinate.

"Really honestly what it comes done to is, it is my right to decide if you are going to inject something in my child or not, that's my right and I'm going to keep that right," said Brady.

Regardless of what a parent chooses to do, Brady says she hopes all parent know there are options when it comes to vaccinations,

"I am happy to see when people are taking their exemptions, that tells me that they know what their rights are and I just want them to be educated either way. If you are going to vaccinate, know what those risks are, if you are not going to vaccinate, know what those risks are," said Brady.

The Department of Health and Welfare says they respect a parents decision to not vaccinate, but their message stays the same

"Parents choose to take measures to help reduce the chance of a harmful thing happening to their child so in the same sense, that's what we do with vaccinations. It increases your chances of preventing disease," says Hewett.

Brady says she doesn't’t advocate for skipping out on vaccines as a so-called “anti-vaxxer,” but rather pushes to help other parents understand their choices.

"We wouldn't choose it for our own family, but we would never stop you from choosing it," said Brady.

The Department of Health and Welfare says it is important to note that if parents decide to exempt their child from even one vaccine, their child is included in the pool of kids with exemptions. So, it is entirely possible that kids in the exemption pool still have some immunization history.

The department adds that all vaccines are not 100 percent effective, but says immunization is the best way to prevent kids from getting sick.