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Group Works To Get San Diego Kids Fully Immunized

Audio

Aired 4/25/11

Local officials are marking the 20th anniversary of a county coalition that strives to increase vaccination rates among infants and children. At the same time, a number of parents in San Diego don't believe in vaccinating their kids.

A male patient receives a vaccination shot in his upper arm.
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Above: A male patient receives a vaccination shot in his upper arm.

— Local officials are marking the 20th anniversary of a county coalition that strives to increase vaccination rates among infants and children. At the same time, a number of parents in San Diego don't believe in vaccinating their kids.

The San Diego County Immunization Coalition says 86 percent of local children are fully immunized. But doctors say those that aren't could be putting their own health and the health of others at risk.

Dr. Mark Sawyer is a specialist in infectious diseases at Rady Children's Hospital. He said it's not just an individual decision parents are making.

"It's a community decision," Sawyer pointed out. "We need to help protect others who can't be immunized, either because their immune system is compromised, or they're too young. The only way to protect everybody is to get everyone immunized."

A local outbreak of measles in 2008 was caused by an unvaccinated child who became infected while on a trip to Switzerland. As a result, hundreds of children were quarantined, and 12 kids in San Diego County came down with measles.

The disease kills nearly 160,00 children worldwide each year.

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