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Arizona health department revamping vaccine education program

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — After canceling a vaccine education program in October, Arizona’s health department is coming up with a similar one.

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 in a statement to KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The department is currently conducting focus groups and working with schools to implement the pilot program. The goal is to launch it in time for the 2019-20 school year 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.

This comes after ADHS canceled a vaccine education program in October after getting complaints from parents, including some who 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.

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