Pediatrician urges parents to vaccinate kids

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It's a trend that crosses social and economic boundaries: a small, but growing number of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children.

Some health experts say the fall out is that once rare childhood illnesses could make a comeback.  

As of early October of 2018, the CDC has confirmed 142 cases of measles and 1885 cases of mumps, both vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S.

About 78% of Georgia children get their recommended vaccinations.  

Pediatrician and WebMD medical editor Hansa Bhargava says one reason more than 20% don't is lack of access.

More than 60 Georgia counties, she says, don't have a pediatrician.

"The other reason is, I think, there is a fear out there," Dr. Bhargava says.  "For whatever reason, parents are fearful that vaccinations can cause a disease or cause another disease such as autism."

Researchers have repeatedly disproven the idea vaccines cause autism, but, Bhargava says, it is still very much alive on social media.  

She sees what happens when kids aren't vaccinated.

One of her patients, a newborn, came in pertussis, or whooping cough.

"She was 6-weeks old," Dr. Bhargava says.  "And, pertussis in a baby can mean hospitalization, but it can also mean just simply stop breathing and death.  And, sadly, she had acquired it from her 10-year old sister who had not been vaccinated. But the 10-year old sister was going to school.  So, she brought that home to her sister."

The baby's parent asked her if they could vaccinate both children right away.

"And, yes, you could, but it was too late for the baby," Bhargava says.

The baby was hospitalized, but survived. 

Bhargava says she also treated a 5-month old boy with meningitis.

"And when I tell these stories, parents understand how important it is we have vaccines," she says.  "It's technology. Why wouldn't we use technology?  It's like not using a seatbelt, when it's there."