State Vaccination Rates Continue To Drop

By  Stina Sieg
July 21, 2014

More and more parents are opting out of vaccinating their children in Arizona, and that has health officials worried that could cause outbreaks of illness across the state.

Arizona law requires children to get certain vaccinations before enrolling in school, unless their parents get an exemption for personal, medical or religious reasons. A decade ago, 1.6 percent of Arizona parents took that route. Now, that number has nearly tripled, according to a recent report from the state health department.

Jessica Rigler is with the bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control. She says parents who choose not to vaccinate aren’t just putting ­their own kids at risk.

"There are still infants that are too young to be vaccinated," she said. "We’ve got folks in the community that are too sick to be vaccinated, and so when you folks that aren’t vaccinated who can contract these diseases, they can also really easily spread it to those that are more vulnerable in our community."

Rigler added that southern Arizona counties, especially near the border, tend to have the highest percentage of vaccinated children. Yavapai County in the north consistently has the lowest. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been modified to reflect that Yavapai County has the lowest rate of vaccinated children.

Updated 7/22/2014 at 10:36 a.m.