For the first time in more than a decade, the percentage of Arizona kindergartners getting exempted from vaccinations by their parents actually went down.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reports this week that 4.6 percent of the state's kindergartners this year haven't been vaccinated due to a parent's personal or religious beliefs. That's only down from 4.7 percent last year, but it might be the end of a decade-long trend of increasing vaccine exemptions in Arizona.
"This good news might be a fluke or in may be a change in the mindset of families," Cory Nelson, the interim director of ADHS, writes on the agency's blog. "We hope the trend continues next year. If we do, it might be due to the work we've been doing for the last few years or because of concerns after the large measles outbreak this year. No matter the cause, public health will keep watching and working to help our state reach herd immunity against all vaccine-preventable diseases."
Of course, vaccine rates have become a big issue around the country and especially in Arizona after a measles outbreak started in Disneyland, resulting in seven measles cases here.
In Maricopa County, the exemption rate for kindergartners, at 5.1 percent, is a little higher than the statewide percentage.
Yavapai County has the highest personal exemption rate, at 10 percent.
As shown in the map above, some of metro Phoenix's more affluent areas, like North Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, have some of the highest vaccine exemption rates.
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