THV's Alyssa Raymond looks into the debate between choosing to vaccinate or not vaccinate children.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Getting a shot can be very scary for children. A sudden sting, only to be relieved by a colorful Band-Aid, and maybe a lollipop. Now, more and more parents are choosing to not put their children through that, and many medical professionals are saying the decision is causing highly contagious diseases to make a comeback.
According to the Department of Health, pertussis or whooping cough is causing a lot of trouble in Arkansas. They have seen more and more cases over the last two or three years. Because of that, they are now trying to give the Tdap vaccine to kids 11 and older, making it an age requirement as opposed to a school grade requirement. But one father in northeast Arkansas said we need to stop injecting toxins into children.
"I have shown people that we can live without medicine," said Chris Barr of the website NotADoc.org.
"Real living, real life and real healing" is what Chris Barr said he is teaching people.
"What I talk about is not just theoretical," said Barr. "I have practical applications, and I have the science behind it as well."
Barr spends his professional life researching health practices. He added, "To me, medicine is the alternative."
He said his children are of that practical application. He chose to not get them vaccinated.
"No disease of any consequence in any of them," said Barr. "Very healthy. Very strong."
And now, one of his son's, Brady Barraza, said he is not going to vaccinate his children either. He said, "When they are already struggling coming into life and their immune system is developing you then put toxins in their body?"
For those questioning vaccinations, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha says to seek educated answers.
"Fear sometimes speaks louder than facts," said Dillaha. "We want to calm the fears enough so that people can make really judicious well-thought-out decisions about what is right for their child."
Dillaha is the Director of Immunizations with the Arkansas Department of Health. As a child, she had measles before the vaccine came out.
"I would not want any child to go through that, and I was fortunate I did not have any of the lasting complications," said Dillaha.
Here in Arkansas, each year, more and more people are requesting exemptions from fulfilling school vaccine requirements. A majority are citing philosophical reasons. The upward trend started back in 2003 when the state started allowing exemptions for reasons other than religious and medical ones. Many people, including Barr, believe there is a link between vaccines and autism.
"When you see the aluminum compounds that they put into vaccines that are known documented neural disruptors and then we have things like autism that are neural disruptors," said Barr. "They cannot figure that out? Really?"
Dillaha said scientifically they cannot find a link.
"We do not want to blame it on something that we cannot find a connection for if it is going to cause us to miss the real causes," said Dillaha.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people actively choosing not to vaccinate are helping diseases once far out of our minds, such as measles, make a comeback. Dillaha said the most recent outbreak of measles in Arkansas was back in 2012.
"Some people will present just the risk of the vaccine and not talk about the risk of the illness," said Dillaha.
Even still, Barr said that out of the thousands of people he has worked with, he has not seen any problems with not getting vaccinated. In 35 years, seeing thousands of people, Barr says he has only dealt with about 3 or 4 who got whooping cough after not being vaccinated. He says he gives them Lobelia, which is a vinegar extract.
"I am not against doctors," said Barr. "Some people think that I am. I just believe we need to be smart and intelligent in how we utilize the smarts that we allegedly have."
One thing both Barr and Dillaha agree on is, for people to do the research and get educated. Find out what works best for you and your family.
The CDC recommends children be vaccinated against 14 different common childhood illnesses. Dillaha said vaccinations are not risk-free, and parents should talk to doctors in order to be able to make an informed decision. The Department of Health offers vaccines free of charge to patients. Dillaha said the Affordable Care Act is allowing more parents to get their children vaccinated because required vaccinations are covered.
- Changes to School Immunizations Requirements (PDF): http://on.kthv.com/1jvfAxQ
- Measles in Arkansas 2012 (PDF): http://on.kthv.com/1oki5ng
- Where Children Can Get Their Shots (PDF): http://on.kthv.com/1fKmTCB
- Vaccination Study by Pub Med - Arkansas 2006: http://on.kthv.com/1fMNY8p
- NotADoc - Addressing Archives of General Psychiatry: http://notadoc.org/node/30
- Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/