“The choice not to get a vaccine is not a choice to take no risk. It’s just a choice to take a different risk.... Hib meningitis is a horrible, ugly way to die.”
— Dr. Paul Offit, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

A false sense of security

Vaccines have done such a good job of reducing deadly childhood diseases that many parents don't worry about them anymore. Some have even opted to not have their children immunized.

In some parts of the United States, vaccination rates have dropped so low that certain diseases are making a comeback:

• A study in California has found that unvaccinated children are nine times more likely to contract chicken pox than those who received their shots.

• The number of cases of whooping cough (pertussis) nationwide has skyrocketed, from 1,000 in 1976 to 26,000 in 2004. Unvaccinated children were 23 times more likely to get the disease.

• Right here in Minnesota, infection rates for Hib meningitis reached their highest level since 1992. Sixty percent of the children suffering the disease had not been vaccinated.

Side-effects scare some parents off

All vaccines can potentially cause some side-effects: redness or soreness at the injection site, or, in rare cases, some mild illness.

As diseases become rarer, some parents become more concerned with the side-effects. Some even choose not to have their children vaccinated—putting both their kids, and everyone they come in contact with, at risk.