Doctors react to WHO adding anti-vaccination to ’19 global health threats

Anti-vaxxer movement growing

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - A trend of not vaccinating children has grown popular enough that the World Health Organization has labeled it one of it’s ten global health threats of 2019.

WHO says that vaccinations prevent roughly 2-3 million deaths per year. But with the rise of “Anti-Vaxxers,” that number is in jeopardy of dropping, quickly.

“Mostly it’s just a general fear, and a concern about giving their baby something that could harm them, and you could imagine that concern,” said Dr. Keith Tolar, a Pediatric Urgent Care Physician at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville.

Tolar says that based on when you were born, the question of whether or not to vaccinate, wasn’t a question at all. But it is now, and parents are more concerned about complications and side effects of the vaccines when they come to see the doctor.

“By giving them the vaccine, that they are also going to be giving them some other medical consequence,” said Dr. Ann Butsch, a family doctor with Tulip Tree Family Healthcare in Fort Branch. “Whether it’s Autism, where it’s what they consider a toxic dose of a chemical such as Mercury, or whether it’s a matter of 'I don’t care about other people in the community, I only care about the health and welfare of my own child.”

Butsch says the she herself supports vaccines, but these are the types of questions she often hears when it comes vaccinating children. Many of these concerns are the reason for vaccine hesitancy or anti-vaccine sentiments according to Butsch.

Now WHO has labeled “Anti-Vaxxers” as one of their top ten global health threats for 2019.

“It’s not hype that oh well maybe these infections were never as bad. Maybe we don’t need all these vaccinations," explained Dr. Tolar. "We live in a day where most children are vaccinated and it keeps us from seeing a lot of really serious things that were there before.”

Dr. Ravi Kamepalli, an infectious disease specialist at Deaconess, posed this question to parents: “In 1920′s, 1950′s, 1960′s you started having all this measles, and rubella, tetanus, and all these things going on. Now think about how you would not want to give that vaccination to your children when other people are dying around you. Would you do that?”

Physicians like Dr. Ravi Kamepalli and Dr. Keith Tolar with Deaconess in Evansville say they do understand the concerns that parents may have, but say there are two sides to every story.

They say the side of vaccination tells that the risk for illnesses are constantly increasing. The Wold Health Organization used measles as an example of the impact anti-vaccination has. They say that a 30 percent increase in measles has been reported as a result of the less children getting vaccination shots.

That increase can affect what all three doctors described as a “herd immunity." The term means that one or two people without the vaccination can remain safe and “immune” by staying around others that are vaccinated.

“As fewer and fewer people vaccinate, we’re losing our herd immunity, and we’ll at some point, depending on the infection see a marked increase in incidents of those once we reach a critical threshold," Dr. Tolar said.

In addition to anti-vaxxers, the WHO also named air pollution and climate change, non communicable diseases, and HIV to their list of threats to global health for 2019.

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