Texarkana, TX 60° Tue H 79° L 60° Wed H 77° L 63° Thu H 74° L 60° Weather Sponsored By:

Report: Number of unvaccinated kids in Arkansas on the rise

Report: Number of unvaccinated kids in Arkansas on the rise

April 15th, 2019 by Associated Press in Arkansas News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An increasing number of children in Arkansas are not being immunized against childhood illnesses, according data from the state's Department of Health.

State law mandates that children must receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps and polio by a certain age or prior to beginning school. Parents can file for exemptions with the Health Department by citing medical, religious or philosophical reasons.

The data indicates the amount of exemptions in the state has jumped by around 25% over the last five years, from 6,397 exemptions in 2013 to 8,016 in 2018, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Meg Mirivel, a Health Department spokeswoman, said that the numbers include Arkansas students in public and private schools.

For the 2018-19 school year, about 66% of the more than 8,000 exemptions in Arkansas were for philosophical objections, roughly 32% were for religious purposes and 2% were for medical reasons, according to the Health Department.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that 555 cases of measles have been confirmed in the U.S. in 2019. The last confirmed case of measles in Arkansas was in January 2018, Mirivel said.

"Measles is one of the most contagious diseases that we know of. If one person has measles, 90% of people who they come into contact with who are not vaccinated will probably get it," said Dr. Joe Thompson, of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and a former surgeon general for the state.

When 95% of a community is vaccinated against a disease, doctors call that "herd immunity," which means the danger of a disease outbreak getting out of control is relatively low, Thompson said.

The state is failing to meet that standard. The vaccination coverage rate for kids entering kindergarten in Arkansas during the 2017-18 school year was 91.9%, according to the CDC.

In 2016, northwest Arkansas had an outbreak of mumps, with at least 150 cases confirmed or alleged in Springdale and Rogers.

Dr. Gary Wheeler, the Health Department's chief medical officer, said he grew up seeing people disabled and suffering the consequences of diseases that are mostly preventable with vaccinations.

Wheeler strongly suggests that parents immunize their children. "The consequences are too severe," he said.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com