(Little Rock) (AP) – It’s back-to-school time and the chief of immunizations at the Arkansas Health Department is urging parents to have their children vaccinated.
As students return to class next month, Dr. Dirk Haselow expects a growing number of children to be unvaccinated.
Since 2003, Arkansas has allowed families to claim a “philosophical” objection to immunizations. Every year since then, the number of unvaccinated children has grown. At the start of last school year, more than 3,500 Arkansas schoolchildren were unvaccinated.
That’s still less than 1% of the state’s 468,000 public school students, but Haselow says it’s still enough for diseases to spread.
The trend in Arkansas is mirrored nationally. There’s a whooping cough outbreak in the Pacific Northwest. Last year the disease killed 10 infants during an outbreak in California.