More Utahns opt out of vaccinating their children

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Department of Health officials said nearly 2,300 of the 50,000 students in kindergarten or preschool around the state are not immunized.

This school year 4.6 percent of children did not receive vaccines. That's up from 4.3 percent the year before. Officials say when less than 95 percent of the population is vaccinated, the opportunity for an outbreak increases. Rich Lakin, ‎immunization program manager with the Utah Department of Health, said many parents are getting information from the wrong sources.

He suggests turning to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or public health departments for information on vaccines.

"Anytime we have a small increase we feel as a public health organization we need to continue with that message and let people know that from a science standpoint immunizations are very important," said Lakin.

Lakin said the areas with the highest immunization exemption rates, based on numbers from 2009 to 2013, are Summit, Wasatch, Duchesne and Vernal counties and areas near St. George.

He also says the vaccine most commonly refused by parents is the MMR: measles, mumps and rubella.

"Immunization is one of the greatest public health threats," said Lakin. "When you look at all of the diseases that used to occur, they are pretty much gone to a certain degree and that's what people see. If people don't see it, they think they don't exist."

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