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Science and Innovations

Study: Phoenix Leads Nation in Unvaccinated Children

Arizona Department of Health Services

A new study says the City of Phoenix has the highest number of unvaccinated children in the nation, due to reasons of personal belief. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports. 

Eighteen states allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their kids for philosophical reasons.

Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas examined data on kindergarteners in these states and found in the Phoenix area, nearly 3,000 kids (or about 5 percent) had parents who chose not to vaccinate them against measles, mumps, and rubella.

Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Portland were also so-called “hotspots” for unvaccinated kids.

In 12 of the 18 states, philosophical exemptions have risen in the last decade. The criteria vary from state to state, but in Arizona, parents of K through 12 students can fill out a “personal belief” exemption form and do not need to give a medical or religious reason.

Nationwide about 72 percent of young children are fully vaccinated. Experts say lack of vaccination has led to measles outbreaks in recent years, even though measles was declared eliminated in the U.S.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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