AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, immunizations for some children are declining and a local pediatrician said he is seeing the same trend.
Dr. Anders Leverton, a pediatrician at Texas Tech Physicians, said about 90% of his families are getting their kids’ scheduled shots, while the other 10% are either getting an alternative schedule or no vaccinations at all.
“I would say over the past seven years, I have seen a difference in the immunization rate. It used to be a given that people were going to get their vaccines, and now it’s not a given anymore,” said Dr. Leverton. “We don’t see these diseases as much. It’s not as prevalent. It’s not like living in the ’50s, where tons of kids got these things…”
The Immunization Partnership, a non-profit based in Houston, has been around for about 15 years. Their goal is to be a voice for Texans who want to prevent disease.
“I think vaccines are victims of their own success. There are two entire adult generations who have never seen these diseases. People don’t understand that polio leads to lifetime paralysis, or measles leads to deafness or death. I mean, on and on. They haven’t seen the consequences of not being vaccinated for these diseases,” said Terri Burke, the executive director.
Burke said the organization is visiting different parts of the state to advocate for vaccines.
“We know from recent years, that folks who are hesitant or opposed are loud and they’re extremely vocal,” said Burke. “They’re not the majority. Poll after poll says that people trust their doctors about vaccines but we need to get that word out.”
Dr. Leverton said without vaccinations, we could see resurgences in diseases that have become rare as a result of most people being immunized.
“I like to tell families that what we know the vaccines are safe 100%,” he said. “I’ve had, you know, some people ask me about well, ‘Is this vaccination going to give my baby autism?’ No, it will not. I’ve had some people go, ‘Well, is this vaccination, going to get this going to give the kid this disease?’ No, it prevents them from the disease. And that’s a great time to discuss how vaccines work.”
He encouraged anyone with questions about vaccine safety to either talk with their doctor or pediatrician.
“Some people don’t vaccinate because of religion. I can’t argue with that. As a doctor, there’s nothing I can say, just swaying, because who am I to talk about someone’s religion?” Dr. Leverton continued. “But I do think parents should be informed and know all this stuff because some of the things that people worry about with their vaccines aren’t realistic fears at all.”
Click here for more information from the CDC about vaccine schedules for children.