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Vaccine Education Program Receiving Makeover From Arizona Health Department

Following the October cancellation of a vaccine education program, a similar one is being formed by the Arizona health department.

The Arizona Department of Health Services is looking to implement a re-designed immunization education pilot program.

“Immunization coverage is falling at our schools, placing vulnerable children and our communities at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases,” the department said. 

Focus groups are currently being conducted, along with working with schools in order to put the pilot program in place. The current goal is for it to be launched for the 2019-20 school year’s enrollment.

“This pilot is designed to provide ADHS with statistically significant data to determine if this strategy will increase vaccine rates to protect children throughout Arizona,” the department said.

The previous vaccine education program was canceled in October by ADHS following parent complaints, along with some that don’t vaccinate their children.

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ wrote in a recent blog post that “in the event of a statewide measles outbreak, over 5,000 Arizona kindergartners would be at risk of contracting measles.”

Christ also noted the percentage of children exempt from at least one vaccine rose from 4.9 percent to 5.4 percent for kindergarteners, and from 5.1 percent to 5.4 percent for sixth graders. Exemption rates were much higher for children in charter schools.

“A continuing rise in exemptions is concerning,” Christ wrote.