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State official: Lower immunization rates put Arizona at risk

PHOENIX — Arizona’s top health official says increased use of immunization exemptions are putting the state at risk of an outbreak of diseases.

Health Services Director Cara Christ (krihst) said in a blog post Friday that nonmedical exemption rates of students have increased across all age categories three years in a row.

Arizona law requires that children attending school or child care must obtain certain vaccines, unless exempted by a doctor for medical reasons, or by a parent for personal or religious reasons.

Christ says religious-belief exemption rates for child care-preschool have increased to 4.5% from 1% since 2000, while personal belief exemption rates in kindergarten have risen to 5.9% from 1.4% and in 6th grade to 6.1% from 1%.

Exemptions for medical reasons are rare.