Doctors see fewer kids getting shots | News
It's a hot topic leaving some parents with mixed feelings as the school year approaches: the question whether it's best to vaccinate your children because of concerns over possible side effects, including a fear of autism.
Thursday in our state's capital, First Lady Sandra Deal spoke on the importance of immunizations at the Atlanta Medical Center.
Meanwhile, 13WMAZ spoke to some pediatricians about how fewer kids are getting shots. That's partly because some parents are worried about possible risks.
But the doctors say that could backfire and expose kids to dangerous illnesses that have been dormant for a long time.
"If more and more people don't get vaccinated, we're going to see a resurgence of illnesses that we haven't seen in 50 years," says Dr. Jason Smith.
Smith has been a pediatrician for a decade but says he's spent much of the last five of those years addressing growing concerns among parents about vaccines.
"We have to give reassurance every day that vaccines are safe," Smith said.
A small percentage of parents are keeping their kids from getting shots at all, and Smith calls that "really scary and should scare people and we don't want that to happen."
Smith says those illnesses include pertussis also known as "whooping cough," measles, and even the possibility of polio becoming common again, illnesses now nearly wiped out because of vaccines.
"I mean, if you Google vaccines, the front page of Google is going to talk about all the bad stuff of vaccines," Smith said.
It's a reality he and other pediatricians are facing.
Dr. Seth Bush says he doesn't treat patients who aren't vaccinated.
"People need to realize that you're more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to have permanent harm from a vaccine," Bush said.
He says he's heard concerns from parents about possible side effects including links to autism for years because of speculation in older medical journals, that was later debunked.
"As you know it's easy to scare people. It's hard to 'un-scare' people," Bush said.
Smith says vaccines work on the principle of herd immunity, and that even kids in Central Georgia who don't get vaccinated often avoid illnesses because they're not as common in this region. But that could change if more kids stop getting shots.
Smith says if you're really worried ask your pediatrician what they'd do for their children.
"My kids get vaccinated right on time, and I keep to that schedule because I'm confident that the risk of not being vaccinated far outweighs whatever benefit you might get from that," Smith said.
Most people in Georgia still choose to immunize their children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 97 percent of Georgia kindergartners are vaccinated.