Many Parents Use Personal Belief Exemption Form To Opt Out Of Vaccines

Published: Wednesday, February 4, 2015 - 3:27pm
Updated: Thursday, February 5, 2015 - 7:50am
Audio icon Download mp3 (1.52 MB)
Jim Goodson, M.P.H./Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
An infant with measles.

Many parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kids by signing a personal belief exemption form. But the overuse of this document at some Arizona schools is cause for concern.

The Arizona Department of Health revised its single-page personal belief exemption form to include the symptoms and risks associated with vaccine preventable diseases. It also requires parents to initial that they read and acknowledged that information.

But despite that, "it is just in the last few years that the use of exemptions have become a real threat," said Debbie McCune-Davis, the executive director of The Arizona Partnership for Immunizations.

Her group works to improve immunization coverage rates across the state. McCune-Davis said exemptions were intended for a small percentage of students.

"What we’re confronted with right now is the problem that that number has increased and herd immunity is at risk. And if we’re aren’t immunizing at the 90 percent level or more, the disease can spread and we’re right in the middle of that now with the measles outbreak."

To illustrate the point, according to the department of health, out of the 35 kindergartners enrolled at Ajo Elementary School 29 have a personal belief exemption. And the Tucson Waldorf School has a personal belief exemption rate of more than 69 percent.

One Source, My Connection!