A recent report via the Associated Press has found that children in Arizona have more vaccine exemptions than kids in any other state. Many vaccinations and public health advocates are trying their best to change that but progress on that front has been slow. Parents in Arizona and many other states are still allowed to not vaccinate their children despite the bevy of dangerously affirming pseudoscience and highly palpable health risks associated with doing so.
“We are very concerned because Arizona is in the top five states with the highest exemptions, we’re No. 4 with 5.8 percent of kindergarten-aged children exempt from at least one vaccine,” said Debbie McCune Davis, the executive director of Arizona Partnership for Immunization.
Davis’s recent statement remains pretty consistent with previous findings on the matter. States like Oregon, Vermont, and Michigan are in a worse, but similarly grave situation as far as vaccinations are concerned. All three of those states make the top five for vaccine exemptions alongside Arizona, the main difference being that between five and six percent of children in those states have skipped at least one crucial vaccination or are totally unvaccinated.
While Oregon is a very blue state, the number of vaccine exempt children who live there is around six percent. If anything, that illustrates the surprisingly non-partisan relationship this issue has with the American public. While we typically associate the preponderance of pseudoscience with the GOP (think their aggressive denial of climate change), one Pew study found that 12 percent of liberals versus 10 percent of conservatives actually think that childhood vaccines are unsafe.
On the other side of the list, states like New York, Virginia, and New Mexico have among the lowest vaccine exemption rates among children. In each of them, less than one percent of kids go without all of their vaccinations. According to Davis, who is an expert, and a mountain of scientific research, “There is no question that vaccines work.” Still, a cocktail of financial constraints and unsubstantiated medical concerns prevent many parents from vaccinating their kids.
“We want parents to understand that the studies that were done 20 years ago – linking vaccines to autism – have been completely debunked and that the medical community will tell you that that risk does not exist.”
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