Immunization Exemptions: Small But Noticeable Increase In Opt Outs For Kids


Published 08/25 2014 10:29PM

Updated 08/25 2014 10:48PM

Getting the shots your doctor recommends is second nature for many Siouxlanders. But recently the number of vaccination exemptions for kids in Iowa schools have really 'shot' up.

The Iowa Department of Public Health for the last school year reported less than two percent of kids weren't up to date with immunizations, they were exempt for medical or religious reasons. It's a number
that seems small but is on the rise and doctors say it's a trend that worries them.

Getting a shot isn't exactly fun.  They can even be downright upsetting.  But most people get vaccinated regardless, especially kids.

But according to the Iowa Department of Public Health, every year there are some kids who aren't fully immunized. They're exempt for religious or medical reasons. But that may not be the whole story.

"It's usually that prejudice, that bias. I used to, I always tell people, it's kind of like the old wives tale or the urban legend. They believe what somebody else told them, they believe what they read on Facebook," said Dr. Sheila Holcomb, Family
Practitioner with the Floyd Valley Hospital Family Medicine Clinic.

Dr. Holcomb says she's seen a slight uptick in patients opting out of immunizations over the years, but nothing drastic.  Woodbury County's students, for example, reported less than 200 exemptions for the
last school year. And across Iowa, the number of kids not up to date on immunizations is less than two percent. But that number tripled over the last 12 years. And Dr. Holcomb said she thinks it could lead to bigger problems.

"We are going to see a really huge increase of really bad childhood and adult diseases because of people thinking, 'oh, my child will be safe, they haven't had a case like this for a long time'," Dr. Holcomb said.

But not for one Le Mars mom. She's bringing her son Brandon in for his one-year check up and it includes four shots.  She says not keeping up with his immunizations never even crossed her mind.

"I think that he just needs ot get them because you know, some other kids get the chicken pox in their system and he gets them, I'd rather he have the vaccine for them and not get it," said Amanda Edwards, one-year-old Brandon's mother.

Because while those shots sure hurt now, she knows without them, it could do far more damage.

"You know, I just figure it's probably better for him in the long run so I think that he just needs to get them," Edwards said.

Physicians say if you don't know why they or the CDC is recommending an immunization for you or your child, just ask. They're more than willing to explain.

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