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DENVER — To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That is the question for Colorado parents this flu season. For some parents, it’s a no-brainer.
“I think what people don't realize is that if you don't get your kid vaccinated it can actually make other kids sick,” said Katie Vitela.
Others aren’t so sure.
“Because there’s risk, there should be a choice,” said Phil Silberman.
A new report C.S. Mott Hospital in Michigan shows that more than 34 percent of parents in the U.S. have no plans to get their kids a flu shot this season.
The report found 48 percent of parents followed recommendations from their child’s doctor. But 21 percent said they don’t remember ever getting guidance from a health care professional.
Nationwide, nearly 180 kids died last year from influenza. The Center for Disease Control reports 80 percent weren't vaccinated.
Katie and Tawni Vitela were skeptical about flu shots but just had their 8-month-old daughter vaccinated for the bug. They say their doctors convinced them.
“A number of kids were getting it, and if they did, it was actually very deadly to them. That's the reason we decided to vaccinate her,” she told Denver 7’s Tom Mustin.
Phil Silberman disagrees. He is a member of the Colorado Coalition for Vaccine Choice.
“I have been researching this for 14 years now,” he said.
Silberman said parents should decide whether or not their children should be vaccinated. He believes children's immune systems can combat most infections on their own. He said his 13-year-old daughter is living proof.
“My child has never had a shot. She tests in the top 1 percent in the state for reading and math,” said Silberman.
Silberman said research shows vaccines, flu and otherwise, can lead to everything from brain injuries to autoimmune deficiencies. And as for the 80,000 flu deaths last year?
“Research shows those numbers are incredibly skewed,“ he said.
Swedish Hospital nurse Teresa Nardon couldn’t disagree more.
“I've seen children sick in the hospital. Unfortunately, I've seen children pass from the flu,” she said.
Nardon said flu shots are worth their weight in gold, especially for children.
“Two weeks after you get the flu shot you build up antibodies for the flu virus, and that will either prevent you from getting the flu or lessen the symptoms so you won't need to be hospitalized,” said Nardon.
She said the new study showing a third of parents passing on the vaccination is disturbing.
“It’s a little terrifying to me just because children are at such high risk of getting the flu and having a lot of complications,” she said.
Nardon said everything in life has risks, but she believes the flu shot is not only safe but a lifesaver.
“I really hope you feel passionate about getting your children and yourself a vaccine,” she said. “Although we love taking care of kids at Swedish, we would rather see your kids out in the community healthy and happy.”