AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Public health experts in Maine say cases of chickenpox and whooping cough are falling in the state, but the number of children receiving immunizations for the diseases and others is still lower than it should be.
The rate of kindergarten-age children whose parents obtained religious or philosophical exemptions for them was 5.6% in the school year that ended in June. That was the same rate as the previous school year, the Portland Press Herald reported.
The rate of students receiving exemptions figures to fall dramatically next school year, when the state will implement new laws that repeal religious and philosophical opt-outs to the shots. The only exemptions will be for medical reasons, which aren’t common.
Maine has had 29 cases of whooping cough, also called pertussis, this year. The five-year average is 223. The state has had 28 cases of chickenpox, also called varicella, this year. That’s below the five-year average of 143.
Public health experts say the number of cases has been reduced by social distancing and mask wearing precautions many people have been taking due to the coronavirus pandemic.