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Arizona schools chief Kathy Hoffman voices support for vaccinations

(AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro, File)

PHOENIX — The top education official in Arizona voiced her support for vaccinations in a state that ranked among the top in the nation for exemption rates this past year.

Kathy Hoffman, Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday that she strongly supports immunization as a matter of school safety.

“I strongly believe that any child that can be vaccinated should receive their vaccination because this is both a health concern as well as an academic concern,” Hoffman said.

“As superintendent of public instruction, one thing I’m concerned about is if there is any kind of outbreak…then those children would miss school and it would also cause teachers to be absent from schools. That could be a huge concern for me, and something that we need to do everything we can do prevent.”

Arizona ranked among the top five states in the nation for exemption rates in 2018, and the state Department of Health Services said more than 7,000 children had been exempted from vaccinations in 2017.

Officials in the Pacific Northwest responded to a measles outbreak in January that sickened dozens of people, but the last outbreak in Arizona was in 2016.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams visited Arizona last week to visit Gov. Doug Ducey and community health leaders and discuss the importance of vaccines.

“[Gov. Doug Ducey] is just as concerned, if not more concerned, about this than than I am,” Adams said Feb. 14 on Arizona’s Morning News.

“It just boggles my mind and the governor’s mind that we’re going backwards on this important issue.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon contributed to this report. 

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