Earlier this week, the State of Washington declared a public health emergency due to a measles outbreak that has infected nearly 40 people to date. Luckily, no Arizonans have been infected with measles associated with this outbreak, but the fact that measles outbreaks still occur underscores the importance of up-to-date vaccination for all children.
ADHS strongly supports vaccination as the primary prevention method for a large number of diseases. Vaccines are one of the most important public health advances of our time, preventing unnecessary illness, hospitalization and even death from many diseases that were once commonplace.
Unfortunately, vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks are becoming more common. In 2018, three large measles outbreaks in New Jersey and New York infected nearly 100 people, and the outbreaks are still ongoing. Closer to home, a 2015 outbreak of measles that started in Disneyland infected 147 people, including seven Arizonans.
The majority of parents in Arizona vaccinate their children, but vaccine coverage is eroding. In the 2017-2018 school year, 5.4% of kindergartners and 6th graders were missing one or more vaccinations. This puts those children, and those around them who can’t be vaccinated due to age or medical conditions, at significant risk of illness from vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, whooping cough, and mumps.