Chantelle O’Callahan has a young daughter, and a son on the way. She says it has been a quandary, deciding which vaccinations are safe to give her kids.
“I don’t know what they expects parents to do it’s a really tough thing that parents are in right now about these shots… I’ve been in tears over it, it’s a really stressful situation," she said.
Fact is, some parents are avoiding vaccinations because of the fear of side effects -- autism first among them. Although there is no proof vaccines are dangerous, there is proof that avoiding vaccines can be harmful. Certain diseases are now back on the rise, such as whooping cough, measles and now, mumps, according to the LA county health department’s Dr. Jonathan Fielding.
“We’ve had six confirmed and three other reported cases for a total of 9 and that’s more than the total for 2009, and 2008, so it’s a significant increase," Fielding said.
Mumps is a virus that spreads through coughing and sneezing. It can cause swelling in the salivary glands, and inflammation in the testicles. The symptoms are usually mild but in rare cases it can become dangerous, and cause meningitis, even death.
“Overall if you look at 2 year olds, about 1 in 5 haven’t gotten all of the vaccinations… the American Society of Pediatrics and the American Society on Immunization Practices certainly have continued to say this is safe. It’s very effective,” Dr. Fielding said.
Parent Shelly Keller says she has gotten her kids the full schedule of vaccines: “I really trust my pediatrician and the research that has been done with it, and I think the positives, by getting your children vaccinated completely outweigh the risks.”
Unimmunized children and teens under age 19 can get free or low-cost shots from the county's Public Health centers or through local community health clinics.
Information can be obtained on the Department of Public Health website or by calling 211.