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March 2019

Unvaccinated Teens Are Seeking Ways to Get Their Shots
Shamard Charles, M.D. and Caroline Radnofsky

Unvaccinated Teens Are Seeking Ways to Get Their Shots

Some teenagers who have never been vaccinated against diseases such as measles or chickenpox are questioning the anti-vaccine movement, even as health officials condemn parents who chose not to vaccinate their children for a measles outbreak in 10 states.

One of those teens is Mayci, an 18-year-old from Augusta, Georgia who went to Reddit for advice on vaccination after hearing about the measles outbreak.

Mayci — who asked that her last name not be included because she’s worried about upsetting her mother — had never had a vaccine. The reason? Her mother’s position, ‘vaccines are bad, this is something we don’t do, leave it alone,’ the teen told NBC News.

In February 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 101 cases of measles. Fifty-five of those were in Washington state, the epicenter of the outbreak. Almost all of the cases occurred in children younger than 10 whose parents had chosen not to vaccinate them.

While growing up, Mayci thought her mother’s negative views of vaccines were normal. Her mother used a religious exemption so Mayci wouldn’t be required to be vaccinated in school, and told her friends to do the same.

“What we are seeing is pockets of intense anti-vaccine activity,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a pediatrician and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Waco, Texas. “A social movement of public health vaccine opposition has been growing in the United States in recent years. Subsequently, measles outbreaks have also increased.”

Experts believe that this is one reason why anti-vaccination hot spots like Clark County, Washington have popped up. But doctors and nurses say the recent outbreak is spurring people to get vaccinated. The Washington State Health Department says about 530 people were immunized against measles in January 2018. This January 2019, there were more than 3,000 immunizations.

Since getting vaccinated is a medical procedure, in most cases teens younger than 18 need the consent of a parent, guardian, or other adult family member.

When Mayci was 17, she talked to her dad about getting the vaccine when she turned 18. “He honestly just said that I am old enough to make my own medical decisions. He supports my judgment,” Mayci said. “The fact that I work in a doctor’s office has allowed me to really become educated on the myths and truths about vaccines.”

In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the United States, thanks to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine that has been part of routine childhood shots for decades.

Measles is a highly contagious disease, but people who get the proper doses of the vaccine rarely contract it, even if they are exposed.

Two doses of the vaccine — at 1 year to 15 months old and a second dose at 4 to 6 years — provides about 97% protection. A very few who get both two doses of the measles vaccine will still get measles if exposed to the virus, albeit a milder form of the disease. Experts are not sure why.

So far, Mayci has now received the TDAP vaccine and a flu shot. She plans to get the MMR vaccine, along with shots against HPV, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and varicella (chickenpox) later this year.

“I graduate from high school this May and plan on majoring in clinical laboratory science in college,” she said. “Because it’s a health science field, I absolutely have to have the required vaccinations.”

source: livescience.com

Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your health. Check with your doctor before beginning any nutrition or exercise program. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have heard or read in this article or the internet.

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