Keep these things in mind if you are you considering not vaccinating

As a parent, you can choose whether or not to vaccinate your child. We encourage you on behalf of your child and the other children in your child’s school or child care facility to immunize your child. But, if you choose not to immunize, we encourage you to be an information seeker and learn for yourself why you’ve made the decision not to immunize. Talk to a trusted doctor or nurse, visit trusted websites, or call and talk to the Immunization Coordinator directly at your local health department to learn more and help get your questions answered. You can also participate in our blog and connect with other people who may have similar thoughts. Keep in mind that your decision not only affects your family, but can also affect the health of others. A single exposure to an outbreak could lead to many complications for the family or friends of an unvaccinated person.

Without immunizations, you and your child are at greater risk of catching one of the vaccine-preventable diseases.
A child who is not immunized is automatically more susceptible to dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. Fighting these diseases can take a great deal of time, mandatory isolation, money, and pain. Vaccines were developed to prevent these diseases. Vaccines are very safe, and the threat of these diseases is very real.

Unvaccinated children and families may be mandated into isolation or quarantine during disease outbreaks.
During outbreaks, unimmunized children may be mandated into quarantine or isolation (even if they do not show any signed of having the disease). Simply not being vaccinated could mean that your child has to be excluded from school or child care or interaction with others until the outbreak is over. The family could be required to seclude themselves in their home until receiving a medical or public health clearance. Sometimes, this could take several weeks or even longer if multiple family members are exposed. While parents taking off work and children missing school can be very difficult for both the parents and child, this ultimately helps to protect your child and others.

Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease happen every year
near you.

The State of California experiences vaccine outbreaks each year. Visit the vaccine-preventable-disease outbreak page to see real outbreak numbers.

An unvaccinated person can be a disease threat to other adults and children.
Unfortunately, children who are not immunized pose a threat of transmission when there is disease in the community. They can pass the disease on to babies who are too young for immunizations. They also pose a threat to children with medical exemptions, including children with leukemia, who cannot be immunized because of their medical condition. For a very small percentage of children, vaccines will not “take.” These children also are put at risk. The only way we can protect them is to surround them with immunized children. Children with exemptions can spread disease to such children who are unaware that they are not protected. Recent outbreaks of pertussis mostly involved children with exemptions. In the measles epidemic, students with personal beliefs exemptions were many times more likely to catch measles than those who were immunized.

Once infected, an otherwise healthy child could die of certain diseases or have serious complications:
We encourage you to learn more about each vaccine-preventable-disease, it’s complications and who is most at risk. Some diseases are usually less serious for children than adults. Other diseases are less serious for adults and are more dangerous for children.

  • Pertussis or “whooping cough” is an extremely dangerous disease for infants and young children. It is not easily treated and can result in permanent brain damage and death. California had nearly 600 cases of pertussis in 1993, with two deaths.
  • During the 1988-90 measles epidemic in California, 2,014 infants and preschool-age children were hospitalized, and 44 died.
  • Diphtheria is an infectious disease of the nose and throat that can lead to serious breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis and even death. There is no risk of serious reaction to the diphtheria vaccine. Yet, several years ago, the Department of Health Services was consulted on a tragic case in which a little boy who had just entered school died of diphtheria. His father had chosen not to have him immunized. The boy was the only unimmunized pupil in his class.
Childhood vaccine doses can wear off as adults.
Not only is it important to vaccinate your children, but it’s is also important to vaccinate yourself as an adult. Some doses adults may have received as a child may have “worn off” or require a booster dose to help them provide the most protection. Adults can unknowingly transmit diseases to children who are not yet vaccinated. In some cases, the adult immunize system can fight off the disease, but the child’s immune system cannot, especially in cases of infants who are too young to receive certain vaccinations. Talk to your health care provider about which vaccines you may need as an adult.

Children and adults must receive all vaccine doses in order to provide the most protection.
If the vaccine requires multiple doses, the child or adult must receive all doses for the vaccine to work effectively. Please review the immunization schedule (link to schedule page) for adults and children to see vaccine recommendations.