Anti-vaccination impact with Dr. Alicia Arnold

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- It's been listed as a “Top 10” threat to global health this year by the World Health Organization as the anti-vaccine movement spreads.

The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite vaccine availability has health officials concerned. As we learned Tuesday, researchers are trying to combat the anti-vaccination movement. A new study published in the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine is aiming to break the perception between autism and the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine. They found that the vaccine does not raise the risk of autism, and does not trigger those kids who are at risk.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Human Services, while Eau Claire County saw a slight increase for the MMR vaccine in 2017, Chippewa, Dunn and La Crosse counties saw a small decline. That same report for the same series of shots, showed only around 56 percent of kids in Vernon County were vaccinated by age 2 for MMR.

So we asked Dr. Alicia Arnold what’s concerning about this movement.

While the number of parents in our area vaccinating their children with shots like the MMR series only saw a small decline is this trend concerning, especially in places like Vernon County?

“It is,” Dr. Arnold said. “We are seeing a resurgence of some diseases that can be prevented with timely vaccination. Being vaccinated, helps protect the kids who are vaccinated and also those who cannot be vaccinated, such as newborns, and those who have weakened immune systems, for example from cancer.”

Is there a reason more parents are second-guessing these recommendations?

“Everyone wants to do what is best for their children. Unfortunately some incorrect information linking vaccines and autism has contributed to some parents reconsidering whether to vaccinate their children. Hopefully parents can be reassured by studies such as the recently released Danish study that showed no evidence to suggest that a common childhood vaccine called MMR caused autism.”

Besides the concerns about autism, are there any other common concerns about vaccines that you frequently hear?

“Sometimes parents are concerned about the number of vaccines in the recommended vaccine schedule, which may be more than what they received as a child. There is no evidence that suggests that receiving several vaccines at once will overwhelm a healthy child's immune system. If you delay vaccines, you may be leaving your baby vulnerable to diseases like measles or whooping cough. Vaccine preventable diseases can be especially serious in young kids.”

Are there side effects with vaccines?

“The benefits far outweigh the risks. Millions of deaths are prevented each year by vaccines. Mild side effects like redness or swelling can be seen at the injection site. Major side effects like a serious allergic reaction are very rare.”

Several social media sites have also recently announced their efforts to combat the spread of misinformation about vaccines, so how do you trust the information that is out there?

“Consider the source of the information and stick to resources based on reputable, sound scientific evidence. There is a great deal of false information out there. For example, the CDC has lots of helpful, scientifically-based information for parents online. You can also ask your healthcare provider questions.”

The world health organization called this a “Top 10” threat, is this something that's going to become more concerning in the future?

“It certainly has the potential to become even more dangerous. Hesitancy or refusal of vaccines can threaten the progress that has been made in preventing some serious diseases.”