ATLANTA, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Areas where significant numbers of U.S. children are unvaccinated face increased risk of outbreaks of highly contagious diseases such as measles, officials say.
A report, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report -- using annual school vaccination assessment reports -- identified areas of under-vaccination for measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
The report summarized vaccination coverage, exemption rates and reporting methods from the 2011-2012 school year kindergarten vaccination assessments.
"Median coverage with two doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was 94.8 percent. Total exemption rates, including medical, religious and philosophic exemptions, among 49 reporting states and the District of Columbia ranged from less than 0.1 percent to 7 percent, with a median of 1.5. percent," the report said. "Although statewide levels of vaccination coverage are at or very near target levels, locally low vaccination coverage for extremely transmissible diseases such as measles remains a threat to health."
The CDC reported 17 measles outbreaks and 222 measles cases in 2011 -- the highest number of measles cases in any year in the United States since 1996, the report said.