Officials from the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction sent a joint letter to Arizona schools last month, asking administrators to promote the importance of vaccinations for school-age children and teachers.
The letter, signed by Arizona School Superintendent, Kathy Hoffman, and the Director of Arizona Department of Health Services, Cara Christ, encouraged school administrators to promote the importance of up-to-date vaccinations in their respective school communities.
“Arizona vaccine coverage among school-age children in Arizona continues to decline, putting our state at increased risk of a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak,” the letter said.
Arizona state law allows the parent or guardian to fill out an ‘exemption form’ and cite either personal belief, medical belief, or philosophical belief as the reason for the exemption. In recent years, more and more parents are opting to use an exemption.
According to the Arizona Department of Health, 4% of Graham County sixth graders took a personal exemption and did not get vaccinated. The number of exemptions among Kindergarten-age children is higher with 6 percent declining vaccinations.
Greenlee County apparently had no exemptions for sixth grade, and 1.3% for sixth grade.
The letter went on to say, “Vaccines are safe and effective. While some parents you encounter may argue against this fact, the science is clear: vaccines are among the most studied medical products in the world and are continuously monitored for safety and effectiveness. When your students (and staff) are fully vaccinated, they are less likely to become ill with a vaccine-preventable disease and thus less likely to spread disease to other students, staff, and families on your campus who are unable to be vaccinated due to their age or a compromising medical condition.”
Read the full letter here.