Mon November 28, 2011

AP: Growing Number of Parents Declining to Vaccinate Kids

More parents are opting out of school immunizations for their kids, and Colorado is near the top of the list.

During the 2010-2011 school year Colorado ranked second in the country for parents opting children out of vaccinations. A new Associated Press study compared the number of kindergarten students who were not vaccinated during the 2006-2007 school year to last school year. Overall, the study found that more parents are seeking exemptions so their kids can skip some of the shots.

But Joni Reynolds, director of public health programs for the state, says Colorado’s rate is not growing—and has hovered between 5 and 6 percent in recent years.

“Not seeing that increase here in Colorado is a good public health sign,” she says. “If we did see an increasing trend it would mean that there was a larger pool of children susceptible to disease where [it] could spread in a community.”

But overall public health officials are concerned over the growing numbers, which they say could lead to outbreaks of diseases like measles and whooping cough.

States with the highest exemption rates are in the West and Upper Midwest. Alaska has the highest opt-out rate at 9 percent.