Arizona's Rate of Children Not Being Vaccinated Climbs Yet Again

The percentage of Arizona kindergartners not getting vaccinated went up yet again this year.

The Arizona Department of Health Services released its annual report on how many children aren't getting vaccinated due to a parent's "personal belief" exemption, a rate that's up to 4.7 percent for kindergarten children.

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-Autism Concern Causing Lower Vaccination Rates Among Arizona Children

That's up from a 3.9 percent exemption rate during last school year, 3.4 percent the year before, and 3.2 percent the year before that. According to ADHS director Will Humble, the exemption rate was just 1.6 percent back in 2004.

The state health department has been on a crusade to try to get more kids vaccinated, which included hosting town-hall style meetings with parents in an attempt to find out why some parents aren't getting their kids vaccinated:

Fear of autism or other side effects, dislike of too many vaccines, perceived potential vaccine contaminants, perceived lack of vaccine effectiveness, and lack of trust of manufacturers, pharmaceuticals, government, and physicians. 62% of exempting parents knew someone who had a severe reaction to a vaccine dose.
(The American Academy of Pediatrics has prepared a document with about 40 or so medical studies finding zero relation between vaccines in autism.)

In a blog post, Humble says the increasing exemption rate is "putting herd immunity at risk." Herd immunity describes how large proportions of the population being vaccinated can prevent the spread of the diseases.

The ADHS report also points out that the exemption rates are different among different types of schools.

In public schools, the personal belief exemption rate for kindergartners went from 3.1 percent to 3.6 percent. In private schools, it increased from 6.2 percent to 7.5 percent, and in charter schools, the rate increased from 7.4 percent to 9.1 percent.

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