Increase in number of parents who refuse to take their babies for vaccination against common infectious children's diseases.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
There is a "worrisome increase" in the number of parents who refuse to take their babies for vaccination against common infectious children's diseases, Dr. Ya'acov Schechter, head of pediatrics at Netanya's Laniado Medical Center, said on Sunday.
Schechter said that this phenomenon is occurring not only in Israel but in numerous Western countries abroad because some parents "mistakenly believe that the risk of contracting complications from the vaccine is greater than that of getting the infectious diseases from which the vaccine protects them."
The American Pediatric Society recently released a position paper on parents' refusal to vaccinate their children. It found that seven out of 10 American pediatricians were familiar with the phenomenon, and that many of them requested parents to find another doctor for their children because they couldn't take responsibility for their care.
"Erroneous and misleading information" on Internet sites is responsible for many of the refusals, said Schechter. "These sites falsely claim that their children's immune system can become weakerâ€š by getting vaccinated. We must not forget that one of the great achievements of modern medicine is the development of effective vaccinations against diseases that previously caused death and epidemics." He recommended that all children be vaccinated for polio, measles, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and hemophilus influenza B, which are supplied by family health (tipat halav) centers, and for chicken pox, which is optional and not supplied by the government, but still highly recommended.
There is no vaccine that is completely free of side effects and risks, said Schechter, but he added that the risk of harm from not being vaccinated was much greater.
He called on authorities to increase dialogue and educate parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated to minimize the phenomenon of refusal.