U of A study shows more parents refusing immunizations

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Kids are back at school and most of the districts require that students have their immunization shots, but a study by the University of Arizona shows more parents than ever are passing on the shots.

Alecia Bristow brought her two daughters to the immunization clinic held by the Pima County Health Department.

She feels that getting her children vaccinated is part of her role as a parent.

"It insures myself that I am doing my part as a responsible parent to cover anything that I can't see physically you know for my own reinsurance to make sure my children are healthy," said Bristow.

But not all parents feel the same way. Since the 2003-2004 school year in the State of Arizona more parents are choosing not to let their kids get shots.

"There's been a dramatic increase in parents that are taking these personal belief exceptions for kindergarten.  It has gone from 1.4% to about 3.2%.  So, it's more than doubled," said Dr. Kacey Ernst.

Doctor Ernst from the U of A says for children in child care and in 6th grade the numbers have tripled.

The reasons for the rise are religious beliefs and a report that the vaccines would cause autism.

"Since that came out as one of the reason why, which when they have done very large cohort studies, they find there's no scientific evidence that there is an actual link," said Ernst.

With school districts already in session and other in the process of starting school students who aren't vaccinated could pose a possible threat to to other children.

"It's dangerous in a few ways.  I believe it's dangerous to the child themselves," said Dr. Michelle McDonald from the Pima County Health Department.   "Making a choice to not vaccinate your own children is definitely putting another person's child at risk."

Ernst and her research team are hoping that educating the public on the benefits of immunizations to get more parents to vaccinate their children.

"That's our ideal and we will be working with communities and the parents to try and develop these programs so that they're affective," said Ernst.

Another explanation for parents skipping the shots, the research team believes parents are no longer afraid of the dangerous diseases immunization protects kids from. That's different than 50 years ago, when parents saw those diseases themselves.