To vaccinate or not: Chickenpox could be the next outbreak in Pima County

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To vaccinate or not: Chickenpox could be the next outbreak in Pima County

By Valerie Cavazos. CREATED Nov 24, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- The battle to vaccinate or not is still being waged. Health experts now say fewer parents are vaccinating their children. 9OYS wanted to know if that's the case in Pima County.
We found out -- most of our children *are vaccinated -- but not fully -- and as a result we could be facing more disease outbreaks.

Shannon McGinnis made a choice to no longer vaccinate her 6th grade daughter. While some think vaccines don't work, she opted out because she believes they're not safe for her child, who experienced  alarming health issues after a round of vaccinations.

McGinnis said, "Fifths disease, which is the 5th strain of scarlet fever. she also would have a mouth full of cold sores. and i would take her to the doctor and they didn't know what to say."

KGUN9's Valerie Cavazos asked: 'And you think it's because of the vaccinations?"
McGinnis: "I think it's a possibility."

But a new danger lurks. McGinnis' daughter is not immunized for pertussis or whooping cough. A cause for alarm, even for McGinnis, after a recent outbreak at several vail schools and across the state.

So what are the risks? Have the vaccines changed? Are parent's fears legitimate?

Pima County Health Deparment Division Manager Kathleen Malkin is well versed on vaccines. She said school required vaccines are mostly effective, except DTAP for Pertussis, which is effective only 70 percent of the time.

Cavazos asked Malkin:  "Has there been any cases where a vaccine caused death or any serious illness?"
Malkin: "I'm not aware of any here in Pima County."
But she said on rare occations the vaccines can lead to complications -- some serious. People who are allergic to components of the vaccines and have underlying health conditions could be at risk and may be exempt, like McGinnis' daughter.

But could exemptions effect an outbreak? 90YS obtained these records that show about 97 percent of the children in pima county are vaccinated.

To eradicate contagious diseaseS,  the CDC says it needs 90 percent of the population to be fully vaccinated -- so no problem in Pima County. But clusters of exemptions can crop up in communities.

Malkin said, "It can be anywhere from 70 percent and up to 90 percent for some vaccines."

Like the vaccine for chickenpox. This school year, only about 64 percent of sixth and tenth graders are vaccinated in Pima County. Malkin says outbreaks happen because people don't remember the pre-vaccine days when diseases, like chicken pox, were more deadly.

But McGinnis will continue to play the odds. |

Cavazos: :So you're not going to vaccinate your child."
McGinnis: "no."  

Malkin said it's important for parents to do their research and consult their doctors and health officials to get reliable information on vaccines and any health risks.