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Aug 14, 2010 8:22 PM by Ariel Wesler

Local parent concerned about childhood vaccinations

Like it or not, many kids are getting ready to go back to school. For most parents, that means making sure their kids have the proper vaccinations, but there are parents who feel vaccinations aren't the way to go.

Health experts say there has been an increase in the number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their kids. In Santa Barbara County , 93 to 95 percent of kids are vaccinated before kindergarten. However, one local parent believes immunizing her child led to Autism and changed his life forever.

7-year-old Eddie Estave is autistic. His mom, Candyce, first noticed signs in her son at 18 months, shortly after receiving his vaccinations.

"Appearing to be depressed withdrawn and not wanting to play with me anymore," Candyce said.

But doctors told her it was normal and he wasn't officially diagnosed until age 4.

"There is no connection at all between autism and vaccination," said Nancy Rosenberg with Santa Barbara County Public Health.

County health officals say vaccinations are safe and can prevent deadly epidemics.

"We still had many fewer people being sick with h1n1 than we would have if we didn't have vaccine for it," Rosenberg said.

"I'm not saying that vaccine hasn't helped us with our public health, but at the same time, the studies need to be done. The long-term safety studies," Candyce said.

She says kids get 33 vaccinations before they're 15 months old and thinks it's overkill. A big part of the debate surrounds the preservative thimerosol. California law prohibits pregnant mothers and kids under three from getting a shot with the chemical.

Any kid starting school or child care must have an immunization record like this, but on the back, there's an exemption for personal beliefs, and you don't have to explain why.

Though only about five percent of county's kids go without immunizations, Candyce is determined to raise awareness.

"I just really want parents to know they do have a choice and I want parents to be really diligent in researching the vaccines they're giving their children," Candyce said.

Santa Barbara County Public Health says it reports any problems with vaccinations to the center for disease control. If you do choose to sign a waiver, you are also giving the school district permission to keep your child at home if there is an outbreak.

The Santa Maria Bonita School District says it has very few parents who choose to sign waivers.

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