How Opt-Out Parents and Their Unvaccinated Kids Are a Deadly Threat to Us All

Health & Wellness on 11.30.11
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Last year in California, there was an outbreak of whooping cough that resulted in the deaths of 24 children. The cause? Parents who refuse vaccinations for their children.

On the TODAY Show, NBC Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman said that, not only are the unvaccinated kids themselves at risk for deadly diseases, but infants who have yet to have all their shots, plus those who are undergoing chemotherapy or who have a weakened immune system are also put at risk by parents making the decision to withhold vaccinations from their children.

Snyderman says it's important to think beyond the health of your kids when considering immunizations:

Think about it this way: your mother who might be fighting breast cancer. Your sister with rheumatoid arthritis, another child with asthma. An unimmunized child is a walking Typhoid Mary who can put any of those immune-compromised people in an early grave. I personally think it is selfish not to think about that. We have to think about public health in a whole new way with immunizations.

Snyderman credits the rise in parents' opting out of vaccines to a false sense of security about the health of today's children. She states that, because vaccines have done such a good job at eradicating disease, a new generation of parents have yet to witness the devastation of diseases like polio, whooping cough and measles.

While I hope I never have to witness the rise of these diseases again in this country, the likelihood is increasing. There is currently an outbreak of whooping cough in Long Island, New York. Let's pray there are no casualties this time. MSNBC reports:

...immunization expert Dr. Lance Rodewald with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, "It could happen. Polio can come back. China was polio free for two decades, and just this year, they were infected from Pakistan, and there is a big outbreak of polio China now. The same could happen here."

I know every time I took my infant daughter to our bustling pediatrician's office, I used to look at the other children and hold my breath, wondering which of them were immunized on schedule, and if they could make my baby girl sick with a preventable-yet-deadly disease. I hope this trend turns around by the time I have a second child.

From Parentables Contributor Amy Vernon:

...convincing people not to vaccinate their children is dangerous. We know that for a fact. To act as if immunizations are a plot by Big Pharma is to insult the memory of scientists who devoted years of their lives to finding a way to prevent fatal diseases. And to ignore the facts: Immunizations save lives. Period.

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