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Vaccination exemptions decrease in Arizona

PHOENIX — After more than a decade of increases, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported vaccination exemptions have declined in the state.

The report comes after exemption rates reached an all-time high for kindergarteners in February, said Jessica Rigler, head of the Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control with the department.

“We’re really encouraged because we’re seeing a decline,” she said Monday.

In child-care settings, the department reported exemption rates were down 0.5 percent and in kindergartens, rates were down 0.1 percent this school year, bringing the total to 3.6 percent and 4.6 percent.

Rigler said the declining exemptions means fewer risks for students.

It’s not clear why the exemption rate has dropped, but Rigler said it could have to do with a change in the state’s exemption procedures.

“Any parent wanting to exempt their children from vaccines now need to acknowledge that they have basic information about the different diseases,” she said.