Arizona has canceled a vaccine education program due to complaints lodged by parents who don't immunize their children. The online course was modeled on a program already in place in Oregon and Michigan. The purpose of the course was to combat the rising number of Arizona parents choosing not to ignore school-required immunizations.
The course was to be optional, but some parents worried that it would eventually become mandatory and filed complaints with the Governor's Regulatory Review Council. Council members questioned the state health department following the public feedback and the state, in turn, decided to cancel the program outright.
There were around 120 total individuals and families who spoke out against the voluntary course on mandatory immunizations.
"We're so sorry we couldn't make a go of this — strong forces against us," Brenda Jones, immunization services manager at the Arizona Department of Health Services, wrote in an Aug. 6 email to a Glendale school official, along with a notification about the course's cancellation.
Brenda Jones admitted in an email that the cancellation was in large part due to "a lot of political and anti-vaxx" feedback. The program had already been launched in 17 schools in three Maricopa County school districts last year and the plan was to continue expansion to schools in Pima, Yavapai and Pinal counties in the 2019-20 academic year.
State health officials are now back at the drawing board hoping to find a new way to provide "evidence-based vaccine education" to Arizona parents in order to convince them that vaccines are "far safer than the diseases they prevent."