Most children can get vaccinated—if their parents will let them

You read that headline right: Children don’t need as many vaccines as they are getting nowadays.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines Tuesday on the health of our children, including the importance of parental involvement to promote immunization and informing pediatricians of children’s symptoms that could possibly indicate low vaccine compliance. And they say that it is not too late to get vaccinated—especially for pregnant women—if they plan to prevent health issues down the road.

Despite states allowing some religious exemptions to receive vaccines, many children still are receiving an unusually high number of vaccinations. This has grown from just 6 percent of public school kindergartners in 1986 to 20 percent of students in the Class of 2014. The number of “immunized” children drops drastically after school age. In fact, one in five teenagers across the United States received a childhood vaccine that did not work during a recent study, according to the Associated Press.

The pediatricians are saying, “If you’re not going to vaccinate your children, don’t worry. They can come to see me when they’re adults.” But the number of vaccinated children still is way too low, given that vaccinations are vital for reducing rates of disease and protecting infants. According to a report in Time, vaccines have successfully reduced childhood illness rates to record lows.

Take, for example, measles. Nearly two dozen people have been sickened and 14 hospitalized in Texas this week from the measles virus, and another 70 people were confirmed to have had measles in the past 15 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Earlier this year, Minnesota had the worst outbreak of measles in more than a decade, with more than 500 people hospitalized, at least one death and more than 90 confirmed cases.

The children who are not getting vaccinated are also exposing their non-vaccinated classmates and not learning how to protect themselves. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, when Matthew Schwartz, a toddler in Washington, D.C., was not immunized because his mother was concerned about potential side effects, an outbreak of measles led to 164 people contracting the disease in the area.

And Dr. Jennifer Cooper, an Indiana-based pediatrician with new AAP guidelines to advise parents, told Time she knows some parents worry that vaccinations are not as safe as doctors and public health officials make them out to be. That’s not true, she said. “As a doctor, I see the incredible benefits of vaccines. I make sure to educate parents about them,” she said. “And I do what I can to give children and families as much information as possible about them.”

Children who are sick or who show signs of not having gotten vaccinated, she said, “should talk to their pediatrician or a health care provider who is well-versed in vaccinations.”

Read the full story at Time.


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