The Arizona Department of Health Services reported the percentage of students exempt from getting vaccines rose across all age categories in 2016, reversing two years of decreasing exemption rates.

Arizona law requires that all students attending school must receive certain vaccines unless exempted for medical or personal reasons. Schools are required to get immunization records from all their students and pass on anonymous versions to the department.

The department called this rise in exemptions “concerning.”

According to the DHS website, vaccine exemptions rose to 3.9 percent from 3.5 percent for youngsters in child care, to 4.9 percent from 4.5 percent for children in kindergarten and to 5.1 percent from 4.4 percent for children in 6th grade.

Exemptions on the grounds of personal beliefs are allowed for K-12 students, according to the statement on the department website. Exemptions on the grounds of religious beliefs only are allowed for youngsters in child care.

Medical exemptions from vaccinations are allowed for all ages.

The ADHS says maintaining high immunization rates is critical to preventing the outbreak of dangerous diseases in the community.

“The rise in exemptions is concerning, and public health is acting to curb this trend,” the DHS statement.

DHS is working to provide more education on vaccinations, the agency said. It is developing online education modules that they will promote through their website and local public health departments.


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