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Doctor urges Maricopa County schools to be proactive in fight against measles

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area doctor is urging Maricopa County schools to be proactive in fighting the latest outbreak of measles in Arizona.

“Gathering immunization records of all their students would be an easy step in determining the risk their student population has,” Dr. Gautam Aggarwal, a family medicine specialist, said.

While Aggarwal stopped short of calling for schools to make vaccinations mandatory — that would likely require some form of legal action — he said administrators should push parents to get their kids inoculated.

“Encouraging vaccinations is also a good idea,” he said.

Twelve cases of measles have been confirmed in the latest outbreak, all of which have been linked to an immigrant detention center in Pinal County. Two additional cases have been confirmed in Maricopa County.

Measles is highly contagious and can spread quickly among children who have not been vaccinated.

Chief epidemiologist Jessica Rigler with the Arizona Department of Health Services said an outbreak would likely affect a small percentage of students in Arizona schools.

“For the 2015-2016 school year, we found that just under 95 percent of kindergartners in Arizona were protected against measles,” she said.

However, because of the way schools document vaccinations, that number could vary.

“If parents are enrolling their students, and they don’t have their shot record for their child at the time of enrollment, it’s possible they will just sign an exemption form out of convenience rather than get their child’s shot record,” she said.

KTAR’s Kathy Cline and Kaely Monahan contributed to this report.

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