WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - An increasing number of parents in Texas and across the nation are opting out of vaccinating their children - a trend experts say could be deadly.
"These vaccines are in place to keep the child healthy and to prevent the horrible diseases we used to see in the past."
A recent survey from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows pediatricians in the U.S. saw a 16% increase in parents who are refusing to vaccinate their kids. The surveys, spanning 2006 to 2013, show common reasons why - parents feel they are unnecessary, they have fears about a possible vaccine /autism connection and concerns about their child's possible discomfort. But experts say choosing not to vaccinate is dangerous - and not only to your child.
Dr. Daunne Peters says now that many parents are choosing not to vaccinate - diseases from the past that we had eradicated are coming back.
"We don't have that herd immunity anymore so we are starting to see measles and diphtheria. We're starting to see these horrible illnesses that killed lots and lots of babies before we had vaccines."
She says we are even seeing breakouts of deadly diseases in our own community.
"Wichita Falls has seen tons of pertussis. We're not seeing quite as much measles though there was a huge scare in Dallas. About twice a year we'll see it and measles is still on the rise in Dallas but pertussis has finally reached this community and measles will be next."
Some parents who chose not to vaccinate say they are concerned about whether there's a link between vaccines and autism.
"No. The MMR vaccine does not cause autism or inflammatory bowel disease."
A lot of physicians refuse to see parents whose children have not been vaccinated. Dr. Peters does see them but says she has struggled with it a lot. She says she tries to encourage and educate the parents on why she vaccinates and what it's for. She also tries to help by working with the parents to see if they would be more comfortable with an adjusted shot schedule. Her advice to parents who don't vaccinate their children.
"Keep them out of daycare, keep them away from other children, not only for their health for not catching diseases but also to not spread disease to other children."