POSTED: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 9:09pm
UPDATED: Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 7:06am
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — A growing number of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children because of what they believe are possible dangers associated with vaccines.
The state of Texas allows parents to file an exemption so their kids can be allowed into schools without the required shots.
Form can be found at (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/IMMUNIZE/school/default.shtm ).
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 266 people in El Paso County applied for a conscientious vaccine exemption in the 2012-2013 school year. That is far less than one-percent of the population (0.14%).
Blanca Reyna is the mother of a 5-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl who are not vaccinated. She made the decision after doing research as a psychology student in 2004.
"Would you intentionally give all these viruses to your child that contains preservatives, that contains thimerosal, which is the mercury base, or aluminum, any heavy metal? I wouldn't to my child, but if anybody does, why would they," asked Reyna.
Reyna's connection to the issue later became more personal.
"My husband has two children from his previous marriage and both of them are disabled. One has autism and the other one has CP - Cerebral Palsy. He said he did notice that the child was developing normally up to two years old when he got his MMR vaccine and then he started regressing," said Reyna.
Reyna said her husband never went through the process of proving the vaccines were the cause for his sons' conditions, although they firmly believe the vaccines to be the cause. The couple later had two children together and agreed they would not vaccinate them.
Jonathan Goodin also has a two year old daughter. He said protecting his daughter is making sure she gets all of her scheduled vaccines.
"It is our privilege, I should say, as parents to protect our children and to do what's best for them. I believe we have a social and a moral obligation to vaccinate our children, not only to protect them but to protect our neighbors as well," said Goodin.
Goodin said he also started researching vaccines when he first found out his wife was pregnant.
"There's no evidence to suggest that the chemicals in vaccines are toxins. There's actually a staggering amount of evidence to suggest that there's no correlation between diseases such as autism and vaccination," said Goodin.
We took each parent's concerns to medical experts including Christina Luera, R.N., a Public Health Nurse with the El Paso Health Department, and Dr. Jody Kincaid, N.D., a Naturopathic Doctor.
They both agreed that vaccination is an argument of risk assessment.
"You have to look at the risk of disease versus the risk of problems with the vaccine," said Dr. Kincaid.
He explained that a vaccination is an exposure to an illness that's supposed to be lighter than natural exposure so that the body can build resistance to it. Dr. Kincaid believes the vaccine contents can do more harm than good.
"Vaccines today are severely I would say contaminated. Many of them have formaldehyde. Many of them have mercury in them still. There are other adjuvants like aluminum in there, which are very bad for the body," said Kincaid.
However, Luera said that as of 1999, mercury is no longer an ingredient in the MMR vaccine. It was previously used as a preservative.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Thimerosal, or Mercury, was removed or reduced in vaccines for young children. The only exception is the influenza, or flu vaccine.
There are flu shots with and without Thimerosal, but the CDC website said it recommends that children 1-6 years old get the flu shot that does contain mercury because the benefit of the vaccine outweighs the risk.
Then there's the speculated link between vaccines and an increase in conditions like autism.
"Parents fear of linking the vaccines to autism, there has been no scientific study that has proven the link between those two," said Luera who stands by the vaccines.
Dr. Kincaid believes there are several reasons for the increase in autism diagnoses, including diet, but said the vaccine influence cannot be out ruled.
The CDC website lists a timeline of studies that have been completed that do not prove a link between vaccines and autism (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/thimerosal/thimerosal_timeline... ).
It also includes a report concluding there is no evidence to disprove the link between vaccines and autism.
The CDC stands by studies that show no link between the two, while Blanca and Jonathan stand by their decisions.
"The biggest danger is not being vaccinated, being able to carry a preventable disease. I'm worried about children really who can't make the choice for themselves," said Goodin.
"It's up to the parents. The children, they do whatever the parents say and so it's up to us to keep them safe and healthy," said Reyna.
Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act in 1986, which means vaccine manufacturers can't be sued directly.
The act requires those manufacturers to pay the U.S. Treasury .75 cents per dose of vaccines routinely given to kids. The money goes to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which awards money to families who can prove injuries caused by vaccines.
According to the National Vaccine Information Center, 2 of every 3 claims are denied.
For more information about vaccines, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, and/or the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program visit the following links: