/ Modified apr 29, 2022 8:34 a.m.

Childhood vaccination rate continues to decline in Arizona

The share of kindergarten students with personal belief exemptions rose to 6.6% this school year, up from 5.4% in the 2019-2020 school year.

360 student shoes kids The shoes of children as they sit in a row inside a kindergarten classroom.
AZPM Staff

Childhood vaccination rates in Arizona continue to decline, according to newly released data from the state Department of Health Services.

The share of kindergarten students with personal belief exemptions from one or more vaccines rose to 6.6% this school year, up from 5.4% in the 2019-2020 school year.

Only 91% of kindergarten students in Arizona had received a measles vaccine as of November, down from about 93% in the 2019-2020 school year.

“What you really need is 95% vaccination rate in order to have what’s called ‘community immunity’ so that if there were a case in a classroom and the vaccination rate were 95%, you’re not going to see a cascade of cases,” said Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the Department of Health Services.

About half the schools in Pima County and only about 33% of schools statewide meet that threshold, according to the department’s data.

“We’re losing about a half a percent of vaccination rate per year. A half a percent doesn’t sound like a lot but after ten years that’s 5%, which is a lot,” Humble said.

New data show vaccination rates vary around the state, with parents seeking more vaccine exemptions in affluent communities and in charter schools.

Meanwhile, lower-income communities tend to have higher vaccination rates.

Pima and Santa Cruz counties rank as having some of the highest vaccination rates in the state. Yavapai County has the lowest.

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