April 23, 2014

Dealing with vaccine avoidance

An advocate for childhood vaccinations in Wisconsin says parents need to look past the misinformation on the issue, for the health of their communities.

When it comes to getting their children vaccinated, Dr. Margaret Hennessy with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare says about 70 percent of Wisconsin parents are making sure their kids are up to date. However, there are many parents who continue to avoid them because of what she calls bad information circulating on the internet.

Also, Hennessy says many of the parents opposed to vaccinating their children are young and do not remember dangerous outbreaks of diseases those immunizations are meant to prevent.

Dr. Hennessy was recently named a Childhood Immunization Champion by the CDC, an honor she earned by working to bring doctors in southeastern Wisconsin together to promote vaccinations strategies.

She says the problem with people avoiding vaccines is that it prevents areas from building up a herd immunity, which can stop outbreaks. Vaccines are not effective in individuals who are unable to build up antibodies, which Hennessy says makes it that more important to increase vaccine rates for those around them.

Despite the skeptics, Wisconsin does still have one of the highest immunization rates in the country. However, she says the goal should be around 90 percent of the population to build an effective level of herd immunity.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:00)