Report: Number of unvaccinated kids in Arkansas on the rise

Under the declaration, which lasts for at least 30 days, anyone under 18 who is not vaccinated against measles is barred from public gathering places, including shopping malls, civic centers, schools, restaurants and even houses of worship. (Source: Matthew Lotz/U.S. Air Force/MGN)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Department of Health data shows that an increasing number of children in the state are not being immunized against childhood illnesses.

State law mandates that children must receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps and polio by a certain age or prior to beginning school. Parents can file for exemptions with the Health Department by citing medical, religious or philosophical reasons.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the data indicates the amount of exemptions in the state has jumped by around 25% over the last five years, from 6,397 exemptions to 8,016. Department spokesman Meg Mirivel says the numbers include Arkansas students in public and private schools.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that 555 cases of measles have been confirmed in the U.S. this year.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com