(WOIO) - The recent nationwide measles outbreak is leading a lot of parents to question how many kids in their child's school are unvaccinated, and could potentially fuel an outbreak.
Upon entering kindergarten, Ohio requires students to be fully vaccinated. But parents can avoid immunization if they file exemptions for medical, religious or philosophical reasons. However, HIPPA laws prevent other parents from knowing who, or how many kids are unvaccinated, and could contribute to an outbreak.
"If that person with a waiver becomes infected and attend public school, we expect to see 18 more cases are related to this one person," said Russell Hopkins, a public health official.
says kids attending private schools are more than twice as likely to have personal belief exemptions. Among public schools, charter school students are much more likely to have such exemptions. But those with a higher percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch, have lower rates of exemptions. Plus, students at small schools are less likely to be vaccinated than those at larger schools.
In general, religious schools have lower rates of unvaccinated kids, but that does vary among religions. For instance, Baptist and Calvary Chapel schools are particularly likely to have unvaccinated students.
Alternative schools, like Montessori or International ones, have significantly higher rates of personal belief exemptions. Doctors say that puts even vaccinated kids at risk.
"If you had 100 vaccinated people in a room and one person with active measles walked in, one of the 100 vaccinated people may get the disease," said Dr. Cherie Sexton.
Per new law in Ohio, as of the end of this month, all licensed preschools and daycares in Ohio will now require vaccinations.