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Study: AZ among the worst in vaccination rates

By: - August 20, 2019 1:03 pm

Connect the dots

An analysis of public health data finds that Arizona has been acutely affected by the rise of the anti-vaccination movement, and ranks No. 4 in the nation in granting the most exemptions to school children.

Health care company e7 Health analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization. 

In Arizona, 5.8% of kindergartners receive at least one vaccine exemption. The only states with worse exemption rates among kindergarten students were Alaska (6.44%), Idaho (7.08%) and Oregon (7.61%).

Oregon is in the midst of its third measles outbreak of 2019, with nine new cases being reported to health officials since July. All nine people were not immunized, and eight of them were children.

Nationwide, there have been 1,203 measles cases so far this year. In 2018, there were only 372 at the same point, according to the CDC. Outbreaks have occurred in New York, California, Washington and Texas. Measles cases have been reported in 30 states, including in Arizona.

Earlier this year, researchers listed Maricopa County as among those most likely to experience a measles outbreak in the immediate future, thanks to a recent spike in the number of parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.

In the face of a potential public health crisis, legislators earlier this year introduced several measures backed by anti-vaccination activists that would have made it likelier that more parents would choose not to vaccinate their children. Those measures were approved by legislative committees after long and contentious hearings, but failed to receive formal votes after Gov. Doug Ducey said he would veto them.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications. He has also served as the editor and executive director of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.