Healthy Homes

Healthy Homes

Healthy Homes 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

With the diagnosis’ of measles in Minnesota earlier this week, following the recent outbreak in California, the debate over vaccinations has intensified.  Vaccinations are critical in ensuring children’s safety, yet many parents may be misinformed by discredited research linking vaccines to other diseases and autism. (Nagourney and Goodnough, 2015).   Health professionals dispute those claims, stating they are “unfounded or vastly overstated.” More troubling is the fact that parents who share these beliefs often live in the same communities. This geographic clustering greatly increases the likelihood of outbreaks among babies too young to receive vaccinations and susceptible children with existing medical conditions. “If a case comes into a population where a lot of people are unvaccinated, that’s where you get the outbreak,” says Dr. Jane Seward, deputy director of the viral diseases division at the C.D.C. (Nagourney and Goodnough, 2015)  Furthermore, with no vaccine being 100 percent effective, even vaccinated children are being placed at a much higher risk. “When enough people stop vaccinating,” Dr. Offit says, “measles and whooping cough – among the most contagious diseases – rapidly exploit holes in community immunity.” (Gross, 2015).  Requiring parents to vaccinate their children, however, isn’t easy in a society which cherishes individual rights. So where does that leave us?

We believe the solution begins with equipping parents with the facts to make the most informed decision for their families.  One of the many positive outcomes to home visiting is the level of trust our families develop over time with their Family Educator. Having someone available on a consistent basis, reviewing options with the family, proves to be much more convincing for many otherwise skeptical parents. “Many parents are simply afraid to get their children immunized,” a Family Educator says, “They may  have only heard the negative risks associated with vaccinations. We inform them of the risks associated with avoiding them.”

Through health education efforts, 88 percent of two-year-olds and 92 percent of five-year-olds are up-to-date on their immunizations.  In the past year alone, Way to Grow families have increased  immunization of their five year olds by ten percent.  Taking cultural beliefs into account, while engaging parents in the discussion, we are positioned to help parents better protect their children.

Sources:

Gross, L. (2015, January 20). Parents who shun vaccines tend to cluster, boosting children’s risk. NPR. Retrieved January 21, 2015, from http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/01/20/npr-vaccines

Nagourney, A., & Goodnough, A. (2015, January 21). Measles Cases Linked to Disneyland Rise, and Debate Over VAccinations Intensifies. The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/22/us/measles-cases-linked-to-disneyland-rise-and-debate-over-vaccinations-intensifies.html?em_pos=large&emc=edit_nn_20150122&nl=nytnow&nlid=70262690&_r=0

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