Medical experts sounding the alarm on nationwide increase in kindergarten vaccine exemption rates

More and more parents are opting out of getting their kindergarten-aged students vaccinated according to new data from the CDC. On average, vaccination exemption rates across the nation nearly doubled last school year.

In Georgia, nearly five percent of kindergarten students had exemptions during the 2021-2022 school year—the highest percentage in the southeast.

"When you look at the numbers, it seems that there is a down tick over the last two years in the percentage of children being vaccinated against common illnesses such as chicken pox, mumps, measles, rubella," Dr. Cecil Bennett told FOX 5.

Bennett is the Medical Director at Newnan Family Medical Associates and. said he believes it’s a byproduct of misinformation about vaccines that spread during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He and others in the medical field called the trend "troubling."

"There’s been no greater medical intervention to save the lives of children than vaccines over the last century," he explained. "The concern, of course, is if enough children don’t get vaccinated, will we begin another—for lack of a better term—pandemic that we’re trying to avoid?"

Bennett said while the numbers are concerning, they aren’t significant enough for parents of vaccinated children to panic.

"Fortunately, the vast majority of children, we’re in the 90 percent, so we’re still in the position of heard immunity," he told FOX 5.

He said he hopes more parents with questions about vaccines will look at the data and facts that support the use of them and encouraging other doctors to have those conversations with parents of their youngest patients.

"There are vaccination processes that have 0 risk of your child getting that disease process because a live virus is not being used…the polio vaccine is an inactivated vaccine… your child cannot get polio from getting the polio vaccine," he explained. "It’s estimated that between 2000 and 2021 that greater than 50 million children are alive because of the MMR Measles vaccine."