Vandy expert addresses vaccination myths

Vandy expert addresses vaccination myths (Image 1)

In recent years, more and more parents nationwide have chosen not to vaccinate their children against diseases, leaving doctors and nurses to dispel the myths that are often associated with the shots.

Dr. William Schaffner, an expert in preventive medicine, told Nashville's News 2 he has worked a long time to dispel some myths about vaccinations of diseases rarely seen anymore.

“The concern started I would say easily five years ago,” he said.

Schaffner said he thinks parents pass on vaccinating their children against diseases such as polio, diphtheria and the measles out of a lack of knowledge.

“They have no personal knowledge of the illness, therefore they don't respect and don't fear the illness,” he explained.

According to Schaffner, the increase in not vaccinating a child may have began when some parents believed what he describes as “fraudulent” research from an English doctor, linking measles vaccines to autism.

The myth has since been dispelled.

“A lack of knowledge about the diseases we are trying to prevent, a concern about the vaccines is it really safe, the autism myth I am afraid is still alive and well,” Schaffner said.

However, despite the recent increase in parents not vaccinating their children, Tennessee has one of the highest vaccination rates.

Figures from 2010-11 from the Tennessee Department of Health for kindergartners indicate that only 0.7% received exemptions.

“Our school and daycare laws are really quite stringent, so at the end of the day the children are immunized although it often take a little bit longer that we might like,” Schaffner said.

Schaffner said he encourages parents to vaccinate their children.

“Get the children vaccinated, my grandchildren did, on schedule, they are doing very well,” he said.

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