Most vulnerable are babies who might be too young for vaccination, young children who do not have strong immune systems and people who cannot be vaccinated because of medical issues, according to scientists. Kathryn Riffenburg's son died of whooping cough (pertussis). Though she was inoculated long before his birth, she later learned that a booster shot during the pregnancy could have saved her son's life. Two other preventable diseases that have recently made a comeback, perhaps because of the anti-immunization movement are measles and meningitis.
Outbreaks of measles in New York, California and Texas are warning signs of a bigger spread that could happen if more people refuse vaccinations. Officials said in 2000 that measles shouldn't be a problem anymore, but this year the disease is expected to affect three times as many people as it did in 2009. "Vaccination rates against most diseases are about 90 percent," said Anne Schuchat, the CDC's director of immunizations and respiratory diseases.
When 10-year-old Jeremiah Mitchell was 6, he was infected with meningitis, and doctors had to remove his arms and legs and parts of his eyelids, jaw and ears to get rid of the disease. He caught meningitis at school, where two children died and four others also got the illness. His mother, Michaela Mitchell, said that her son was not vaccinated against meningitis because the school didn't require it for children his age.
Some doctors have taken their own measures to safeguard their patients from people who refuse vaccinations. For example, doctors working at Old Towne Pediatrics in Mannassas, Va., will not accept new patients if the parents will not vaccinate their children. "We don't want to put our patients at risk because people for their own personal reasons don't want to vaccinate," said Anastasia Williams, a managing partner of the practice. "We are doing our due diligence to protect our children who wait in our waiting room." In Colorado, 4 percent of kindergarteners did not get vaccinated for non-medical reasons. State Rep. Dan Pabon sponsored a proposed bill necessitating parents to either get a doctor's note or view a video about risks before deciding against vaccination, Alcindor writes.
Sarah Pope decided against vaccinating her three children. All of them got whooping cough in 2006, but they recovered through treatments from a holistic doctor and natural supplements. "People only see the bad in infectious diseases," said Pope, who runs a health living website and blogs about vaccines. "But infectious diseases do help children strengthen their bodies." She says she knows vaccines are not 100 percent effective and doesn't want to be pressured into vaccinating her children (Read more)