Vaccines have prevented devastating diseases like polio, measles and many others. But now, the fear is growing that more and more American children are not getting that protection against life threatening childhood diseases. Health officials say this not only leaves children at risk, but that a non-vaccinated child puts other kids at risk if they have not had the opportunity or reached the age yet to get the vaccines they need.
Dr. Mark sawyer, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease specialist, says, "Parents who think these diseases aren't severe or aren't around, should spend a day in my life. I see children in this hospital every day with infections, serious infections, life threatening infections from the types of things that we can now prevent through immunization."
A growing number of parents are opting to not give their children all the recommended vaccinations because of fears of possible side effects. There has been a growing concern among parents that there could be a link between vaccine preservatives and autism - a controversial theory that most doctors have rejected.
Meanwhile in San Diego last month, 12 kids came down with the measles - nine had not been vaccinated with six of those having parents that objected to the vaccine.
Dr. Sawyer says that the problem is that our society has forgotten how dangerous those childhood diseases can be since we haven't seen epidemics in a long time.