The topic of childhood vaccinations packed the house at Vanderbilt Wednesday afternoon. A panel discussion was held at the campus to address parents who want the choice of getting their children vaccinated.
"I don't want to be seen as that parent who's putting other children in harm's way," said Amanda Agnew of Smyrna. "I don't think we're doing that at all."
Everything Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Agnew said there's no doubt she lives in a home with three boys. In trying to do what's right for her guys, Agnew said middle son Asher won't be getting booster shots this fall after a reaction he had to a flu shot.
"It was causing his immune system trouble," said Agnew. "He couldn't sort it out. He had sore patches on his skin. He had digestive issues. It was just a hard process to figure out what was bothering him."
Dr. William Shaffner of Vanderbilt said he's concerned about the growing number of parents opting out of getting their children vaccinated, especially with the number of whooping cough and measles cases growing. Measles were considered eradicated in the US in 2000, but there were 189 cases last year.
"There is a movement across the country to expand that possibility, and that's only going to bring more of our children susceptible," said Shaffner. "At one time or another, our intensive care unit will once again be full of children who have these illnesses that are completely preventable."
Opt-out laws in Tennessee allow parents to choose not to have their children vaccinated for personal or religious reasons.
"The unvaccinated child, should they become ill, puts other children at risk," said Shaffner. "It's not just a matter of you and your child. We all have a responsibility to each other."
As for Agnew, she said both her other sons will be vaccinated. She said she's just looking to do what's best for Asher.
"As parents, we are constantly making decisions for our children," said Agnew. "What's best for our child in our situation is our responsibility."
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