OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children for one or more contagious diseases when they enter kindergarten is rising.  

It was first reported by Oklahoma Watch

During the 2021 and 2022 school year, state and federal reports show Oklahoma’s kindergarteners are now the least-vaccinated in the seven-state region. The data shows Oklahoma had the highest exemption rate. 

The report does not include the COVID-19 vaccine. Oklahoma students are not required to have that to attend public school.

However, there are 26 other vaccinations Oklahoma schools look for. That data is included in this report if your student has been exempted from at least one of those. 

A growing number of Oklahoma families are filling out exemption forms to skip at least some of these shots.  

“The devil’s in the details. That doesn’t mean they’re unvaccinated. That just means that they filed an exemption and they have not taken one of the doses of the many,” said Liza Greve, executive director for Oklahomans for Health & Parental Rights.  

Liza Greve with Oklahomans for Health and Parental Rights said more parents are picking and choosing what vaccines their children receive.  

Oklahoma schools require incoming students to be vaccinated against diseases like the measles, hepatitis B and polio. 

Oklahoma officials are worried about certain outbreaks like the measles that can quickly shut down a school. 

“It’s important because, you know, there’s so many different vaccine preventable illnesses. And I think one thing that we’re worried about happening here in Oklahoma is what just happened in Ohio, which is they just had an outbreak of measles. They had about 85 cases and they ended up having 36 of these children going to the hospital. All 85 cases were actually kids who were not fully vaccinated,” said Dr. George Monks.  

According to the CDC, the latest report reveals exemption rates for Oklahoma kindergarteners have gone up 3.5 percent. 

“There are some kids that actually absolutely need this exemption. They may be allergic to the vaccination… We’ve got to get them vaccinated to protect them. You know, we’ve got to obtain that herd immunity because once you fall below that herd immunity, you start seeing things like what happened in Ohio with measles outbreaks,” said Dr. George Monks, former OSMA president. 

Oklahoma allows exemption for medical, religious and philosophical reasons. 

“Every child has different medical needs. There are some vaccines where parents choose a religious exemption because some vaccines are made with aborted fetal cells and they’re pro-life… Our organization feels like it’s a parental right choice,” said Greve.

According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, fetal fibroblast cells used to grow vaccine viruses were first obtained from legal, elective termination of two pregnancies in the early 1960s. These same fetal cells obtained from the early 1960s have continued to grow in the laboratory and are used to make vaccines today. No further sources of fetal cells are needed to make these vaccines.

While Oklahoma schools do not require students to have their COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. George Monks suggests getting you child vaccinated against COVID-19.  

“Obviously we want to keep our kids healthy when we want to keep them in school. And the best way to do that is to keep them vaccinated,” said Dr. Monks.  

There is a form to sign if a parent would like to opt out of a vaccination for their student. You can request exemptions for more than one vaccine. 

The Oklahoma State Health Department says they are still working on results from the 2022-2023 school year. They will update their report on their website once it is ready.  

While more public-school families are asking for vaccine opt-outs, “Oklahoma Watch” reports that exemptions in private school families are dropping.  

Here is the CDC report.  

You can find the Oklahoma Kindergarten Immunization Survey FAQ here.  

You can find more information on the topic here from the Oklahoma State Health Department.