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Should Parents Vaccinate Their Children?

Do you welcome immunizations, or refuse them?

The recent whooping cough epidemic has not only spurred a new shot requirement for children, but has also reignited the immunization debate in parenting circles.

Last year, more than 7,800 whooping cough cases statewide were reported, including 10 infant deaths—three from Los Angeles County. This is the worst outbreak the state has seen in 50 years, according to the California Department of Health.

In response to the epidemic, a new California law, effective July 2011, will require every middle and high school student in California to be vaccinated against pertussis. All students entering seventh through eighth grades in public and private schools must show proof of their immunization, or "Tdap" booster shots, before enrolling in the new academic year.

Previously, the booster shot was only a recommendation. It protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Although whooping cough is not considered fatal in school-age children, it can be fatal for infants, according to the Department of Health.

Most parents in the U.S. immunize their children, but there are many who choose not to vaccinate—often because of fear that autism could be caused by vaccines (though there's no scientific evidence of a connection), or they have other philosophical or religious objections.

That's why the number of young children who are not fully vaccinated for preventable diseases, such as mumps, chicken pox and Hepatitis B, has been steadily increasing over the last decade.

Where do you stand on the vaccination debate? Do you question the safety of the vaccines? Should an unvaccinated child be kicked out of a play group or public playground, or denied an education?

Share your thoughts, ask questions and weigh in on the conversation in the comment section below.

Jaime Diaz March 02, 2011 at 05:23 PM
The choice was not an easy one, but after we had our child, we went back and forth about whether or not to have him vaccinated. Ultimately, since my child was in a sneezy, slobbery, daycare, we decided to go ahead and vaccinate, and then worked with our pediatrician to spread out the shots as much as we possibly could.
David Holland March 02, 2011 at 05:35 PM
I do vaccinate my kids, because I think it’s irresponsible not to do so. If everyone stopped vaccinating, we’d see polio outbreaks and the return of some diseases we don’t want to deal with again. Why risk it? And if there are parents out there who choose not to vaccinate their children, they have a moral obligation to notify other parents and teachers of their decision.
Erika Bako March 02, 2011 at 05:36 PM
I had this debate with myself about giving the flushot for my baby. The doctor strongly recommended since he goes to daycare and could be affected by other babies. So I said yes to the flushot.
Erwin Alber March 02, 2011 at 06:25 PM
As far as I am concerned, vaccination is an organised criminal enterprise dressed up as disease prevention. Vaccines have never prevented anything apart from health, sanity and common sense.
Susan Spillman March 02, 2011 at 07:49 PM
Some pediatricians now also recommend an HPV for fourteen-year-olds, girls & boys.
V Sievert March 02, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Try to get your children in school in California without the vaccinations, it won't happen, because it's the law. I like others, believed that vaccinations could have something to do with autism, but "they" say no it doesn't. I am lucky to have 3 healthy children. All up to date on the shots. Circumcision, now there is an argument.
Jill Krutchik March 02, 2011 at 11:51 PM
Vaccinations are part of the social contract to protect society as a whole. About two years ago there was an individual who had contracted a virulent form of TB. Despite explicit instructions by authorities not to travel that individual decided his rights trumped those of every other person he could come in contact with and deliberately disobeyed the orders and boarded a commercial flight. Individual rights should not allow one person's personal beliefs, often not backed by any scientific evidence, to put others in physical jeopardy. Especially vulnerable are children. The have not build up natural immunities and are in close proximity through day care, school, sports and play dates. If the medical community as a whole develops and backs a vaccine as a requirement, individual parents should not be allowed to participate in those activies (i.e, enroll in school, play organized team sports) without following those guidelines.
Jenny Schiff March 03, 2011 at 03:22 AM
I never even considered not vaccinating my children. I believe it's completely irresponsible to not vaccinate. Parents who choose not to did not live through the terrible diseases that vaccines were created to combat. The vaccines and the schedule on which they should be given have been researched thoroughly. The study linking vaccines to autism has been disproved over and over again and has been exposed as being completely discredited.
Brian March 03, 2011 at 04:04 AM
It's actually quite easy for unvaccinated children to go to school in California. One parent needs to sign the personal beliefs affidavit on the second page of this form. http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/immunize/Documents/pm286b.pdf Then, any school or daycare, public and private, cannot deny admission based on vaccination status.
Debbie S. March 03, 2011 at 07:06 PM
I concur with Jenny. Young mothers of today have no experience with the horrible childhood diseases of the early 20th century. If they only knew what suffering children faced in the past they would not even consider for one second not vaccinating their children. Vaccinations are one of the miracles of modern medicine and we should all be grateful they are available. The supposed risks far outweigh the benefits.
Brian March 03, 2011 at 08:05 PM
"Horrible childhood diseases" like measles? Measles was so horrible, it was the subject of a cute Brady Bunch episode in 1969 back when mothers did know what measles was like. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk29607gSWA
Jenny Schiff March 03, 2011 at 08:15 PM
According to the World Health Organization, "Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available. In 2008, there were 164 000 measles deaths globally – nearly 450 deaths every day or 18 deaths every hour." It's probably best not to make medical decisions based on sitcoms.
Debbie S. March 03, 2011 at 08:55 PM
Measles is also the leading cause of blindness in children living in low income populations.
Brian March 03, 2011 at 11:30 PM
If, by "low income populations" you mean starving children in Africa, then yes, you are correct, Debbie. Children who are not severely deficient in vitamin A from starvation do not go blind from measles.
Brian March 03, 2011 at 11:39 PM
Jenny, obviously, The Brady Bunch was an American show, not an African one. If the typical Amercian mother in 1969 were terrified of measles, they would not have made a cute sitcom about it. I don't know of anyone who makes medical decisions based on sitcoms. I linked to The Brady Bunch episode to show that measles was obviously not considered to be a horrible terrifying childhood disease in the United States back in the 60's before the vaccine came out.
ValleyVic March 04, 2011 at 01:07 AM
Always an interesting topic to discuss. As first-time parents we too weighed-out the benefits to vaccinate or not. After reading up on the issues, speaking with our pediatrician (I highly recommend finding a doctor that doesn't just tell you what to do, but helps you to make the best decision for your family), we decided to vaccinate our baby, but like JennaM wrote above, on a slowed-down schedule. We also worked with a homeopath to help prevent or reduce any adverse reactions. Also, our doctor's office is very good about massaging the muscle before and after the shots are administered to prevent swelling, and a small ice-pack helps too. My child is now 16 years-old, extremely healthy, never sick, and has only been on antibiotics 2x in her life. Vaccinations for disease are one thing, but I am completely against flu-shots for children and adults that are not at risk. My entire family has never had a flu-shot and we seem to weather the flu-storm each year (including H1N1) without getting sick. So much about preventing contagious viruses is about common sense, eat well, get enough rest, take some vitamin supplements and wash your hands often P.S. We also decided not to do the HPV vaccinations; this was rushed through the FDA without the proper testing protocol, and there are far too many complications to give to a child as early as 14 years old who is not sexually active. We also waited on the Chicken Pox vaccine, and scheduled it for when our child was school-age.
david schulhof March 06, 2011 at 04:22 PM
It is amazing to be that how little FACTS those with strong opinions on how " irresponsible" it is NOT to vaccinate your children. FACT #1: In a whooping cough outbreak, from 30 to 70% of those infected had been vaccinated. FACT #2: The decline on this disease, and others, has had NO correlation to vaccines, in fact, this and other diseases were greatly reduced BEFORE the vaccines were introduced. Modern living standards caused the decline many years before. FACT#3: Children with vaccinations are much more likely to suffer from a list of health issues, such as asthma, auto immune disorders, and others, when compared to non vaccinated children. For asthma, the rate is a 70% higher rate if occurrence. So, not effective, causes health problems, and makes large corporations very much money. Yes, only and informed, thinking for themselves person, could make the brave decision not to infect their babies with toxins. Also, read carefully, in California, you can choose NOT to give this crap to your kids, and they can still go to school and whatever else, by law you have this choice/right/ even though many try to convince you otherwise.
david schulhof March 06, 2011 at 04:27 PM
David Holland, how about learning the facts before you reach an opinion. These diseases, (yes, including polio) were not whipped out by the vaccine, but by modern living standards, and that the vaccine, since the mid 60's, has actually been the main cause of polio cases., this is according to the inventor of the vaccine, Salk himself. Please look at a timeline of the fall out of disease outbreaks, and the vaccine development, the vaccines come after the outbreaks have been largely eliminated, there is not cause and effect, so your conclusions are baseless. You are just repeating what you have been told, and furthering ignorance.
david schulhof March 06, 2011 at 04:31 PM
Erika, take a look at CDC info. According to the governments own data, FLU shoots at best, are 33% effective. Why? Because the flu bug changes well before the vaccine is developed. They have to guess at that it will be like many months in advance when they develop the vaccine, so most of time the flu is different from the one they are injecting you with. SO you are choosing to infect your babies with toxins, lowering their natural defenses, with a poor chance of success. Fo me, not a good bet.
david schulhof March 06, 2011 at 04:32 PM
wow, someone who knows something about this commenting here, you must feel lonely.
david schulhof March 06, 2011 at 04:34 PM
Why do people try to convince parents that they DO NOT HAVE a right. which they DO have? YOU DO NOT HAVE TO VACCINATE your kids if you live in California, and they can go to any public school, by law this is your right.
david schulhof March 06, 2011 at 04:39 PM
Jenny, your information is not correct. Vaccinations did not reduce disease, they came AFTER the diseases they " prevent" were already mostly eliminated. If you would look at timelines, you could see this. How about doing a little research on your own? You make quite a few factual errors in your post: . The vaccines and the schedule on which they should be given have been researched thoroughly. THE VACCINES ARE TESTED SEPARABLY, but given to kids all together, this has not been tested in the least. ALSO, statistically, kids with vaccines has much higher rates of health issues compared with not vaccinated. for example. 3x the asthma. Would be good in you did more reading.
Shannon Gonzalez March 10, 2011 at 01:21 AM
It is so refreshing to hear others who are against vaccinating your children! I have never been vaccinated and am exceptionally healthy compared to people my age. Yes, sometimes I get sick and then I drink WATER and SLEEP and by the next day I am usually ready to go again. My daughter, who was born 6 weeks early, has had no vaccinations and won't unless she decides to when she's older. She is now 3 months old and everyone around her has been sick at one time or another (grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, uncle, and niece) and she hasn't been sick. She has been breastfeeding non-stop and is building up a great immune system.
reesa April 01, 2011 at 06:39 AM
Does anyone know any resourses to finding a Dr. in the area who will not push immunizations and will still see my children if I tell them I don't want shots.

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