Doctors are warning parents of the Hepatitis A outbreak across the state, and of measles. They are urging parents to have their children vaccinated, especially since more vaccines are required for children to go to school in the Commonwealth. However, there is an increasing number of children whose parents exempt them from immunizations, for medical and religious reasons. Doctors worry the number could be growing because of misinformation circulating online.
- Doctors warn of Hepatitis A and measles outbreaks. The Hepatitis A vaccine is newly required for students.
- There are medical and religious exemptions parents can use to keep their children from being vaccinated.
- The numbers of those exemptions have increased slightly in a year.
Dr. April Mattingly is a pediatrician in Louisville. She also recommends the flu shot for kids, since she says she's recently seen more cases this season.
“I’m a mom myself. I do the same thing for my kids that I recommend for my patients. We want the best thing for your children, and we’re not going to give advice that we don’t take,” Mattingly says.
Under Kentucky state law, parents can choose not to have their kids vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. In one year from the 2016-2017 school year, to 2017-2018, the state's data shows the number of kids not vaccinated increased. Though it is a small amount of students, the number of sixth graders exempted increased especially, to 1.5%, or 442 kids from 278 the year before.
Groups like the Kentucky Vaccine Rights Coalition support the exemptions and health choice not to vaccinate. However, Spectrum News One was turned down for an interview with the group.
“I think there is miscommunication out there. I think that people are looking on the internet, and there’s you know, false information out there,” Julie Miracle, nurse consultant with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services says. "[Children] would not be protected, and so when they get those exemptions, that they are vulnerable to those diseases," Mattingly adds.
She encourages parents to use medical sites like the CDC’s for info on vaccines.