Some Public Schools Lag Behind in Vaccination Rates: Report

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Several New York public schools are struggling to achieve vaccination numbers necessary for herd immunity despite generally high immunization rates, according to data obtained by WNYC radio.

For example, the data shows there are fourteen New York City public schools with vaccination rates below 83 percent, the cutoff for herd immunity, which is a critical mass necessary to keep a community safe from infection, according to the World Health Organization.

WNYC also found 163 NYC schools in a “grey zone” with between 83 and 94 percent immunization. The overall vaccination rate among NYC students is 98 percent.

Among the other WNYC findings:

  • About 9,500 New York City school students are considered “excludable,” meaning they don’t have proper vaccinations, their grace periods have expired, and they have no religious exemption. Excludable students are technically not allowed in the classroom, but WNYC found one principal who admitted to disregarding that policy – so as not to penalize kids for their parents’ decisions.
  • About 300 public schools in NYC have at least 10 excludable students. Fifteen of those schools have at least 40 excludable students.
  • There are 17,498 NYC public school students with incomplete vaccinations.
  • 1,733 NYC public school students have religious exemptions allowing them to attend class without vaccinations.

In February, the I-Team examined vaccination rates at private schools in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland counties. The analysis found more than 240 schools with vaccination rates below 95 percent last year. In 43 schools, more than a quarter of the student population was not vaccinated last year.

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