Family Focus: A look into why fewer children are getting vaccinated

A look into why fewer children are getting vaccinated

TOLEDO (WTOL) - A new report from the CDC shows fewer children are getting vaccinated, but the report didn’t include “why.”

WTOL dug deeper to see what parents may be holding back.

“She was just a joy to be around. Funny. She would do anything for you and then she got vaccines,” said one mother who believes vaccines changed her daughter’s life forever.

To protect her daughter’s identity, we’ll call her Marie. Marie says her daughter was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, but she believes things could have been different.

“I know that they swear that’s there’s no connection between the two, but you kind of wonder where that story started,” Marie said. She adds that if she could go back, she wouldn’t have her daughter vaccinated.

A growing group of parents agree with her. The CDC reports, an estimated 100,000 young children have not had a vaccination against any of the 14 diseases for which shots are recommended.

The report also shows 1.3 percent of the children born in 2015 were completely unvaccinated. That’s up from the 0.9 percent seen in an earlier similar assessment of the kids born in 2011.

Marie says she’s not surprised, and says she struggles to find information that she can trust.

“Now I think people are reading more and there are so many vaccines. Your studies are all by the people that are supporting that group or paying that group. You know, it kind of makes me suspicious,” Marie said.

Dr. Rabia Akbar, a Mercy Health pediatrician, says vaccines are the most-studied area of medicine and when working with parents, it’s her goal to ease their concerns

“Vaccines are safe and effective,” says Dr. Akbar.

She says most of the time when parents resist the schedule of vaccines, it’s because they’re afraid so many shots at once will overwhelm the immune system.

“A baby’s immune system gets exposed to thousands of antigens on a daily basis. A vaccine gives you probably a couple of hundred of antigens. It’s also very specific for that type of disease that we’re doing. It is not going to overwhelm their immune system,” says Dr. Akbar.

Dr. Akbar says following the schedule is important because a child's immune system gets the most benefit from the vaccine. She says "herd" immunity has stopped outbreaks of things like polio and whooping cough.

She says she trusts the science from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC about vaccines.

“They’ve been around for a while so if there was something markedly wrong with them, it would be apparent by now. It wouldn’t be something sneaky or something secretly being done,” said Dr. Akbar.

Marie says she’ll continue to trust her intuition.

“You have to do what’s right for your kid,” said Marie.

No matter which side of the issue, Dr. Akbar agrees decisions are coming from a place of parents wanting to do what's best for their children.

In the State of Ohio, students are required to be up to date on vaccinations to attend school.

However, the state code states students can be exempt if the parent or guardian declines immunizations “for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions.”

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