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2 Utah cities named anti-vaccine ‘hot spots’ in US

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah is one 18 states nationwide where parents can opt their children out of getting vaccines through non-medical exemptions. A new PLOS medicine study shows more parents are taking advantage of the law and skipping shots altogether. The survey names Salt Lake City and Provo anti-vaccine ‘hot spots.’

It is an issue very important to parent Kristen Chevrier, who said after having her fourth child, she decided vaccines weren’t right for her family.

Kristen Chevrier

“My daughter got her first set of shots, and after that I felt, ‘no, we are not doing this anymore,’” Chevrier said.

Chevrier started Vaccine Freedom Utah, an organization educating parents about their rights when it comes to vaccinating their children.

“The goal is not necessarily to cut back on vaccinations; the goal is choice, information and choice. So informed consent,” she said.

Chevrier said that informed consent is on full display with this latest study, showing Salt Lake City and Provo as areas where more than 400 students received non-medical exemptions from vaccines in the 2016-2017 school year. She said the increase in numbers shows families are now educating themselves.

“Parents are now going and doing their own research, and then they are trying to decide what is the best for their children,” she said.

Gary Stevens with the Salt Lake County Health Department

The Salt Lake County Health Department disagrees, saying the increase is somewhat worrying.

“As we have more exemptions, it’s a greater likelihood that we could have a disease outbreak for one of these preventable diseases,” said Gary Stevens with the Salt Lake County Health Department.

Stevens believes the choice to exempt your child is particularly dangerous for other students who cannot get vaccinated because of medical reasons.

“When we have encounters with parents, we encourage them to vaccinate their children,” he said.

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