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School vaccination rates lower

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UNDATED (WSAU) More Wisconsin parents are deciding not to let their kids start school with the vaccinations normally required for attendance. The Associated Press said the Badger State was among 10 where vaccine exemptions increased by one-and-a-half percent or more over the last five years. And health officials are worried that diseases which are almost extinct, like measles and polio, could make a comeback.

According to state figures, just 76-percent of Milwaukee's pre-kindergarten through 12th graders met the minimum vaccine requirements in the last school year. And elsewhere in the state, 92-percent of youngsters had their proper shots.

Geoffrey Swain of the U-W Madison medical school says parents who opt out of vaccinations for their kids are putting others at risk -- including those who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons, or because their parents cannot afford it. Swain, who's also Milwaukee's chief medical officer, says people frame it as a personal-and-private matter -- and it's not.

Five children were killed as recently as 1990 in a measles outbreak in Milwaukee, and the city had eight cases and no deaths in a similar outbreak in 2008. The A-P said Americans who seek exemptions are generally middle-class white people with college educations and a mix of views and philosphies.

Places like northeast Washington State and Sedona Arizona have clusters of parents using alternative medicines, plus more libertarians who fear government. Swain said he's seen parents who are okay with vaccinations but find it hard to get them in a timely manner -- and they seek personal exemptions just so their kids can go to school. He said those parents tend to catch up on their children's vaccines later.

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