Low vaccination rates put Utah schools at risk of outbreaks

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Experts say Utah’s schools are at risk of losing herd immunity, the protection a community gains when most members are vaccinated against an infectious disease.

The Deseret News reports (http://bit.ly/1QrxyOI ) that Utah Department of Health immunization program manager Rich Lakin says that in most cases, about 90 percent of a community must be vaccinated to prevent serious outbreaks.

But with so many parents have choosing not to vaccinate their children, Utah’s kindergarten classrooms may be losing herd immunity. According to the latest state data, about 91 percent of Utah’s kindergarteners were adequately immunized when they started the 2014-15 school year, and exemptions are rising.

Immunization rates are lowest in rural areas, but high-income districts like Park City have also dropped below herd immunity thresholds.

Lakin calls the trend “disturbing.”

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