Thanks to a growing number of nonmedical vaccine exemptions for schoolchildren across the United States, dozens of cities and counties are now hot spots of risk for vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough, The Washington Post reports. A new study of 18 states that exempt children from vaccination requirements for nonmedical reasons found these rates are rising among kindergartners in 12 states, including Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Texas, and Maine. In addition, more than a dozen counties had particularly high exemption rates (see map above). In some of these places, vaccination rates below 90% mean that outbreaks are far likelier to occur, researchers report this week in PLOS Medicine. This rise in exemption rates could endanger communities by making it more likely for vaccine-preventable diseases to occur and spread.
*Correction, 19 June, 4:48 p.m.: The original version of this story used a map that erroneously listed Allegheny County in Pennsylvania as one of the top 15 urban U.S. counties with high rates of nonmedical vaccine exemptions. The map has since been updated.