Decrease in teen immunizations concerns local doctors

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Grand Strand doctors said they are concerned about the high numbers of teens not getting immunized to protect them from disease.

Parents feel that their children should have every shot available to them while others do not want them to have any. But doctors said vaccines have a track record for protecting people from life-threatening diseases.

Dr. Tom Petrusick said, "We have a terrible problem in South Carolina. We're as good as anybody in the nation until we get as far as immunization rates until we reach the teen years."

Dr. Petrusick added, "We're at like 80 percent for everything up until teenage years and then we're dropping below 50 percent."

Tabita Blaxton is a mother of four kids ranging in age from seven to 27. She said she made sure they are up on their shots. Blaxton said, "I still made sure they got them just to say that I did that doubts. You don't want no doubts well maybe I should have got that shot."

Where Blaxton made sure her family was protected, another mom said she no longer believes in vaccinating her kids. Jennifer Phillips said, "I started doing some research on it and found there were chemicals in the vaccines that are toxic to the body so at this point I changed my opinion."

Nevertheless, experts said with the start of summer camps quickly approaching it is vital for teens to be up on immunizations. Dr. Petrusick said the most important shots to consider for kids include the new HPV vaccine, Meningococcal, and DTP which stands for Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis.

Diane Haffey the Childcare Director at the YMCA said, "Anywhere where you are going to be exposed to other children, other people, other adults...anything. You just need to take that step, that precaution and go through with it and get those shots."

Dr. Petrusick said two reasons teens are not getting vaccinated is because they do not get sick very often and their families can not afford it. But he said it is more important now than ever because we are starting to see a comeback of some major illnesses like Pertussis or Whooping Cough in some areas of the country.

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