LOS ANGELES (KCAL9) — More and more Angelenos have decided not to get their children vaccinated for potentially deadly diseases, which has reignited an on-going debate between parents and doctors.
State law allows parents to choose whether or not they want their kids immunized for diseases like the measles, polio, and whooping cough if they go against their personal beliefs.
In a recent survey by the Associated Press, those who send their kids to private schools in California are more likely to opt-out of vaccines than their public school counterparts.
Saint Aidan’s School in Malibu, Westside Waldorf School in Pacific Palisades, Oak Grove School in Ojai, and Highland Hall Waldorf School in Northridge all made the top of the list of the more than 1,600 schools surveyed.
At Highland Hall, 84 percent of students have decided to either forgo vaccines completely or pick and choose which immunization shots they want.
Tischia Bluske, whose son attends the private school in Northridge, said she chose to have her child opt-out of certain vaccines because of the side effects.
“If I feel like I can care for him if he gets that illness, then I can make the choice not to vaccinate,” she said.
And when Bluske’s son came down with whooping cough last year, she said, “I treated it homeopathically and it was gone in three days.”
However, not all parents at Highland Hall believe the vaccination system is flawed.
“We thought it was in the best interest of our child’s long-term health to get vaccinated. I travel a lot overseas, and I want my children to be able to travel overseas,” said Rob Holmes.
Highland Hall denied a request for an interview by KCAL9, but the director of the school told Kristine Lazar that they follow state law when it comes to vaccinations.
Dr. James Cherry, who specializes in pediatric infectious diseases at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, said a vaccination rate of 90 percent must be maintained in all communities and schools to prevent disease outbreaks.
Cherry said diseases spread as soon as a lot of people start opting out of vaccinations.
“In western Europe, measles has had a tremendous comeback from people not vaccinating,” he said.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, there were eight cases of measles in 2010 and eight in 2011.
Pediatrician Jay Gordon doesn’t think diseases like the measles will make a comeback in the U.S., but believes the vaccination shots have dangerous side effects.
“I think that there is a very small percentage of children who are born with a genetic predisposition to illnesses, whether it’s diabetes, arthritis or autism. And that genetic predisposition needs an environmental trigger. For some kids, the trigger might be pesticides or the chemicals in your carpet… or it may be the vaccines,” said Gordon.
Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed the bill AB 2109, which is aimed to increase immunization rates in California.
The bill requires parents who wish to opt-out, in both private and public schools, to provide proof that they’ve talked with a licensed doctor or nurse about the dangers of not vaccinating.
Critics claim the law chips away at parental choice.