Arizona cancels vaccine education program after anti-vax parents complain: 'Do lawmakers think we're stupid?'

Arizona cancels vaccine education program after anti-vax parents complain: 'Do lawmakers think we're stupid?'

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Arizona’s vaccine education program was canceled after parents who do not immunize their children complained. (Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)

anti-vax parents complained, the Arizona Republic reports.” data-reactid=”31″>An effort by the state of Arizona to address concerns that non-vaccinated children could cause a potential outbreak has been thwarted after anti-vax parents complained, the Arizona Republic reports.

vaccine education program, which was introduced in 17 Arizona schools during the 2017-18 academic year. ” data-reactid=”32″>Inspired by similar programs in Oregon and Michigan, officials had hoped to expand its children’s vaccine education program, which was introduced in 17 Arizona schools during the 2017-18 academic year. 

The evidence-based program was intended to provide information about vaccinations. The hope was to educate parents who file personal belief exemptions to prevent their children from getting immunizations required by schools for diseases such as whooping cough and measles.

Although the program wasn’t mandatory, some complaints were prompted by the parents’ confusion over whether attendance would be required. Others simply saw it as conflicting with their anti-vaccination views.

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Arizona has seen a rise in the number of personal belief exemptions claimed. (Photo: JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images)

“In my experience, parents who have a personal belief against vaccines have already performed countless hours of extensive research on the benefits and risks of vaccines,” one parent responded. “A one-sided video is not going to change their minds and therefore it is a waste of government resources as well.”

Another family accused officials of trying to “create an emotional response, creating fear and pressure in order to compel parents to vaccinate. Do lawmakers think we’re stupid?”

Lawmakers are concerned about the backlash, citing a growth in the number of personal belief exemptions, which they fear could result in an easily preventable measles or mumps outbreak.

“I’m not sure why providing ‘information’ is seen as a negative thing,” said state Rep. Heather Carter. “Providing information doesn’t take away a parent’s choice to seek an exemption. … This is a major concern. Vaccines have saved lives for generations. We all want to live in safe and healthy communities.”

Sunenshine also noted that parents in Arizona need only fill out a form — no doctor signature required — to obtain a personal belief exemption. The state, which is one of just 18 in the country to offer exemptions on religious or moral grounds, had hoped that the evidence-based education course would help offset the ease with which exemptions can be obtained, by keeping parents informed about the health risks.

Meanwhile, state officials are invested in addressing the vaccination issue through other means. In addition to the threat that unvaccinated children pose to students with health issues and compromised immune systems, there are other practical concerns associated with a potential outbreak; children would be kept home for at least 21 days if an outbreak occurred.

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