Maricopa County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. As vaccination research for COVID-19 makes promising headway, residents of Maricopa County might put themselves more at risk by choosing to take exemptions. We spoke with Mac McCullough, a professor at ASU’s College of Health Solutions, and ASU Graduate Pooja Sangha about their research on local vaccination rates.
In the study, the team looked at the decline of vaccination rates in the state and found Maricopa County rates to be one the lowest. According to Sangha, every state has school enrollment policies that require students to maintain a minimum set of vaccinations to be enrolled.
In Arizona, a student can be exempt from vaccinations by medical necessity or if their parent has a personal belief against vaccinations. Each year schools in Arizona record data on exemptions and send them to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
From receiving the data the team identified which schools were gaining and losing herd immunity. In Maricopa County, about 30 schools lost herd immunity which is about 8% of schools in Arizona. According to Sangha, the number of schools that lost herd immunity grew by 90%. The number double of what it is in the last study conducted.
Furthermore, the increase comes at a time when many are choosing not to vaccinate their kids. Though roughly 95% of Arizonans vaccinate their kids, a rise in exemptions is slowly going up.