Immunization debate continues amid recent increases in illness


GREEN BAY- Health professionals say with recent increases in cases of measles and mumps, it's important to vaccinate your children.

But there are still parents who fear the vaccinations themselves could be dangerous.

Shayna Stoop says she views this booster shot for her daughter Ayda as a minute of pain, and a lifetime of protection.

“Not vaccinating was never an option, really, for us. Why wouldn't you, I guess is sort of our thought, if you can prevent from having some sort of serious illness, it's a good idea,” said Stoop.

Public health officials agree.

The Northeast Wisconsin Immunization Coalition met this week to promote what it calls "community immunity."

“It's very important for adults as well as children to keep their immunizations up to date so we all can be healthy from having healthy people surrounding us,” said Karen Volkman, with NEWIC.

Diseases thought to be gone for good from the United States have returned, often brought back people who have traveled overseas.

The Centers for Disease Control says 189 cases of measles were reported nationwide in all of 2013, three times normal and the second most since 2000.

Nearly fifty cases of measles have been confirmed so far this year just in California, the most since 2000.

Closer to home and on a smaller scale, three cases of mumps were diagnosed this week on UW-Madison's campus.

“The younger generation isn't as familiar with the disease, so when you're not as familiar, sometimes you're not as fearful as the disease yourself,” said Volkman.

But some parents say it's their choice whether to immunize.

Shari Reif says she vaccinated the first four of her eight children, before risk factors changed her mind.

Reif feels early vaccination could lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

“In Japan, when they did not vaccinate their children until the age of two, they had a zero SIDS rate. And the United States has the fifth highest SIDS rate out of all the developed nations. To me that was a big correlation,” said Reif.

The CDC says severe side effects like permanent brain damage or death occur in less than one out of a million doses.

But Reif says the diseases being vaccinated against are also rare.

"I think if your child is vaccinated, and they work so well, then you shouldn't have any worries that my child will give your child anything,” said Reif.

As for Stoop, she feels her child's at a greater risk of catching measles or mumps than having an adverse reaction to this shot.

"Whatever we can do to prevent our children from getting that kind of stuff we're going to do that,” said Stoop.

Click here for more resources from the CDC about vaccines.