Last school year, most kindergarteners in the United States received the recommended vaccines for measles and other diseases, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But the CDC also warned that pockets of unvaccinated children could set the stage for disease outbreaks.
Last year, there were 17 outbreaks of measles and 222 measles cases in the United States, the highest since 1996, the CDC said.
Most of the cases involved unvaccinated patients who contracted measles in other countries, highlighting the importance of high vaccination rates among U.S. school children, said Dr. Melinda Wharton, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
"It is of concern when we have these communities in the United States where there's enough people who have made this decision [not to vaccinate] that if the measles virus is imported from overseas, that it could actually spread and cause an outbreak," Wharton said.
All 50 states offer medical exemptions to vaccines, and some states provide religious and philosophical exemptions as well, Wharton said.
Some parents who skip or delay vaccines for their children cite safety concerns, such as the belief of a link between vaccines and autism. The CDC says research has not uncovered a link between the two.
"Based on all the science that has been done to date, and there's been a lot of it, there's no evidence that vaccines are a causal factor," Wharton said.
Image: Boy receiving shot via Shutterstock.