Whether to vaccinate ... or not

Last Updated by John Kanelis on

By John Kanelis

Summer is almost over, which means for many thousands of young Texas Panhandle residents, it's time to go back to school.

Backpacks bought? Check.

New clothes and some nice shoes to show off? Check.

Laptops, notebooks, paper and writing utensils? Check.

Vaccinations up to date? Check ... mostly.

The vast majority of our students are vaccinated against the most common childhood diseases: measles, chicken pox, pertussis (aka whooping cough) and mumps.

But not all of them have received those vaccinations. Why? Parents, for a variety of reasons, sometimes resist getting their children vaccinated. They could be on religious grounds. Sometimes the resistance is based on fear.

NOVA explores these issues in a rebroadcast Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Panhandle PBS. The segment is titled "Calling the Shots," which was aired originally in September 2014.


NOVA reveals a study that was done years ago that contended that the measles vaccine was a primary cause of autism among children. The study has since been refuted and retracted. But the worry remains in the minds of many parents, even though many medical studies since have determined that the condition is hereditary -- and not medically induced.

Medical researchers seem to agree on a fundamental point: Decreasing vaccinations increases the risk of disease outbreak.

Roughly 90 percent of U.S. parents vaccinate their children each year as school begins, according to NOVA. That, of course, is a high percentage and it speaks to the general acceptance of vaccinations as a necessary deterrent to the outbreak of infectious disease.

Still, there's that 10 percent of Americans who do not vaccinate their children.

Are those children putting others at risk? NOVA seeks to find out.

As Panhandle PBS said in a statement previewing the segment: "This episode takes viewers around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations and shed light on the risks of opting out."





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