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
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.