Anti-vaxxer parents force Arizona to shut down a much-needed vaccine education program

ARIZONA — In a testament to how motivated and obstructive a vocal minority of people who promote pseudoscience can be, a state program to educate families on the value of vaccines has been shut down due to backlash from anti-vaccine parents and activists, AZCentral reports.

Arizona launched the program to combat the growing number of children showing up to schools without the proper vaccinations against measles, whooping cough, and mumps. Fearing (unfoundedly) that the course would be mandatory, 120 individuals, including around 20 parents who openly say they refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated, filed a complaint to the Arizona Regulatory Review Council.

When the backlash prompted the council the take the parents’ complaints to the state’s health department, the state responded by shutting the program down. In a note to a school official announcing the program’s cancellation, immunization services manager at the Arizona DHS (Department of Health Services) Brenda Jones said the “strong forces against us” causes the state to cave.

“I’m not sure why providing ‘information’ is seen as a negative thing,” Rep. Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek), who helped create the program, told “Providing information doesn’t take away a parent’s choice to seek an exemption. … This is a major concern. Vaccines have saved lives for generations. We all want to live in safe and healthy communities.”

From AZCentral:

Carter hosted meetings attended by physicians, nurses, school administrators, school nurses, naturopaths and public health officials that led to the creation of the 60- to 90-minute evidence-based vaccine education program.

State health officials said they have returned to the drawing board regarding the regulatory duty to provide vaccine education to Arizona parents seeking vaccine exemptions.

The overriding message they want parents to understand: Childhood vaccines are far safer than the diseases they prevent.

In August, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that a measles outbreak had spread across 21 states and the District of Columbia. Most of the people who contracted the disease were not vaccinated. According to the CDC, 107 people had contracted the disease from Jan. 1 to July 14.

In 2014, the U.S. saw 667 cases from 27 states. One outbreak the same year involved 383 cases in unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio.

Featured image via Flickr

Sky Palma

Before launching DeadState back in 2012, Sky Palma has been blogging about politics, social issues and religion for over a decade. He lives in Los Angeles and also enjoys Brazilian jiu jitsu, chess, music and art.