Number of parents opting out of vaccines for their children increasing in Travis County
August is Immunization Awareness Month. Thousands of parents are taking their kids to area clinics to be vaccinated for school, but the number of parents in Travis County choosing not to get the shots is going up each year.
“It's officially back to school. It also means back to the clinics for thousands of Texas parents and kids like Penney Mutin and her 4 -year-old son Keil.
"You don't want your child laying in the bed sick due to him or her not having their shots," said Mutin.
“An increasing number of parents in Travis County are opting out of immunizing their kids against dangerous diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella.
A report from The Texas Department of State Health Services says during the 2013-2014 school year there were 2,913 kids who opted out for conscientious reasons. During the 2014-2015 year, the number grew to 3,538. The amount has increased by a few hundred every year since 2007.
"I do understand how some parents feel, because I read up a lot myself about certain clinics and things giving kids old vaccines making them sick and some actually dying from it," said Mutin.
There's also speculation about a link between vaccines and autism. It's created a stigma some parents cannot shake off.
"There has been no study that shows a link between autism and immunizations, and in fact quite the opposite," said Dr. Stephen Pont, Pediatrician, Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.
"There have been some celebrities who have talked about it, and then with the internet so much out there, but people do have to be cautious about what sites they're going to a lot of these sites are not based on science," said Kathy Cavin, Registered Nurse, City of Austin.
Health experts say some parents are opting out to protect their children who have pre-existing illnesses.
"There are some children who cannot be immunized due to receiving cancer treatments, or some other medical condition that can lower their immune system," said Pont.
Doctor Pont also says that's why he urges healthy kids to get their shots
"Those kids needs that extra protection, from those kids being immunized," said Pont.
As for parents like Penney Mutin, she says she'll always take her little boy to get his shots. She trusts the vaccines.
“They have a lot of things that's you know, going around so I advise all parents to set up and get their child all the necessary shots that they need," said Mutin.
Doctor Pont says there will be another flu vaccine rolling out shortly. He urges parents to take their kids to get that shot.