Lifewatch: Vaccination concerns

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is worried an Oregon town isn't doing enough to vaccinate its kids.

Nearly 30% of kindergartners in Ashland are exempt from vaccinations, compared to the statewide average of only 4%.

Most American kindergartners are fully immunized against everything from mumps to measles, but the CDC is concerned about the growing number of parents opting out of vaccines and putting their kids and others at risk.

"We have a lot of people that we have to protect, and that's the concept of herd immunity, where if enough people are protected, we protect everybody," said Dr. Jim Shames with the Oregon Health Department.

28% of kids are not immunized in Ashland, Oregon, and as many as 2/3 have opted out, thanks to advice from people like homeopathic physician Dr. Deborah Gordon.

"I want to think about 'what's the best way to encourage you to live a long and healthy life,'" said Dr. Gordon.  "And part of it is to encourage you to think for yourself about what you put in your body."

Jackson County health officials are most concerned about measles which is highly contagious. At least one doctor is predicting an outbreak in Ashland within the next few years which would lead to kids being quarantined, schools being shut down and the very real possibility of deaths among young children exposed to the virus.

"While we may not have seen some of these diseases, they are still around today," said Ashland school nurse Belina Brown.  "We live in a global society, people travel, people come in and out of Ashland."

The CDC held a meeting to find out why kids aren't being immunized and parents responded they don't trust drug companies or many doctors, and fear vaccines may cause autism.

"There is a huge gap in long-term research," said Ashland parent Marla Craddick. "There is almost no long-term research done on vaccines."

The CDC insists there is no credible link between vaccination and autism and says immunization is a victim of its own success - people have forgotten how devastating these once common diseases can be.