When it comes to his child’s immunizations, John Munday means business.
“There are new viruses and new flus all the time,” he said. “They come back stronger, more resistant to antibiotics and medication. I feel a parent is almost silly if they don’t have their child immunized.”
Munday isn’t alone. Doctors offices and pediatric groups are turning away children who are not immunized or who are on a staggered or delayed immunization schedule.
“More parents than ever before don’t want their child given vaccines or want them on a delayed schedule,” pediatrician Barbara Davis said. “But those immunization schedules are there for a reason. A delayed immunization schedule is bad because the schedule is set for when a child’s system is most vulnerable to a disease.”
Davis, of the Lake Health Physicians Pediatric Group in Madison Township, said some parents are scared away from normal childhood vaccinations because of misinformation on the Internet.
“Most parents who insist their child not be vaccinated have gotten on websites that look legit, but aren’t,” she said. “There is a lot of scary information out there. For instance, people thought autism was caused by vaccinations and that has been completely debunked. Autism is not linked to vaccines. There is no mercury in vaccines.”
Davis said children’s bodies can easily tolerate the antigens in vaccinations.
“Children are exposed to millions of antigens per day. Parents may be concerned that the vaccination overwhelms a child’s immune system, but an immune system can handle many shots a day with no problem,” she said.
Paul Thompson, nurse practitioner with State Road Occupational Medical Facility, said he has never had a parent in Ashtabula County refuse to vaccinate his or her child.
“Parents in this area seem comfortable with childhood immunizations,” he said. “People without insurance or a dedicated medical practitioner can go to the Ashtabula County Health Department for vaccines.”
Thompson said medical professionals agree — vaccinations are important and have reduced common childhood illnesses.
“The benefits of immunization far outweigh the potential problems,” he said.
Davis said the resurgence of Pertussis, also known as whopping cough, has caused 10 deaths in California.
“As you get older, the Pertussis immunity wanes and because fewer people are immunized, children are at risk,” she said. “Every adult who is around children should get the adult Pertussis vaccine. Late high school aged children and college students get Pertussis most. Those people give it to infants, who are most at risk of severe illness or even death.”
Davis said Pertussis isn’t the only illness making a comeback.
“There has been a big resurgence of measles because children are not vaccinated,” she said.
Some pediatricians won’t see children who are not immunized, Davis said.
“There is consensus among medical professionals that if a patient refuses vaccinations, they become a danger to the other patients in the waiting room,” she said. “A lot of pediatricians and family doctors require a patient be vaccinated.”
Annalisha Munday, 4, does not appreciate the two quick injections so deftly administered by nurse Cheryl Yatsko at Davis’ office in Madison.
“It hurt,” she said as she eyed the two purple bandages on her arm.
But parents John and Dawn Munday are resolute — Annalisha gets her shots and they make sure the children she is around gets them, too.
“I would never consider putting Annalisha in a day care or school that did not require all children be vaccinated,” John Munday said. “These vaccinations don’t just protect her, they protect all the children around her. For the health of all children, they should all get their vaccinations.”