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More Arizona parents opting out of vaccinations for children

Bobbie Cassler, a medical assistant, prepares a vaccine at Childhood Health Associates of Salem on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Statesman Journal, Anna Reed)

PHOENIX — Vaccinations can prevent diseases in children, but not everyone is on board. More Arizona schoolchildren have gotten exemptions from vaccines this school year, compared to last year.

The number of those exemptions went up by about half a percent across the state this year, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

While Arizona parents can choose to opt out of vaccines for their students, state health care officials are warning parents not to take that route for the safety of their children.

“Anytime we see an increase in vaccine exemptions, we are concerned because it indicates that we’re having more students in the state that are not protected against these dangerous, vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Jessica Rigler with the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Immunizations and vaccinations don’t only protect the child from these dangerous diseases, they “also help to protect the community at large,” Rigler said.

But Rigler said parents in Arizona can sign a form saying they want an exemption from vaccinations for one or more diseases. The form explains the diseases and the potential complications.

It also requires the parents sign off that they are aware that if there is a disease outbreak at the school and the child is not vaccinated against that disease, the child could be excluded from school for up to three weeks.

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