The science is clear, one Augusta doctor says: vaccinate your children

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February 13, 2019

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- There are more than 100 confirmed cases of measles around the country including right here in Georgia. It's re-igniting the debate over whether to vaccinate your kids.

It's hard to believe, but according to CDC data for 2017, 10 percent of teens in South Carolina aren't vaccinated for the measles.

Just go on Facebook and you'll see dozens of groups dedicated to not vaccinating their kids. It's called the 'anti vax' movement -- and doctors say it's the primary reason we're seeing more than 100 cases of the measles across the country.

Celia Palermo: Does that stem from folks actively not vaccinating for that?
Dr. Thomas Zickgraf: Indeed it does, that's the one defense we have against reducing the incidents of measles -- is vaccination.

It's also the reason an 18-year-old girl from Augusta took to Reddit -- searching for help. She posted: "My mom is, and always has been an antivaxxer--so in middle and high school, I never had a single one."

Nikki Phillips, a mom to a 10-year-old boy, has never regretted vaccinating her 10-year-old son.

"It's a controversial subject...but it's the right thing to do for your child." said Phillips.

That's why the Reddit poster says she wants to get vaxxed -- for her own safety, and others. She wants to be a part of the 97 percent of teens in Georgia that are vaccinated for the measles. In South Carolina, just 89.9 percent of teens are, and in Texas, just 84 percent. That's the lowest. Those numbers are according to the most recent data for the CDC.

"They've (vaccines) been the biggest public health initiative that's done more to have an impact on our overall global health than any other measure in medicine," said Dr. Zickgraf, Medical Director of Emergency Services at Doctors Hospital.

While some think vaccines cause Autism or ADD, Dr. Zickgraf says that's just not true.

"The benefit is tremendous and the risk is minimal,"said Dr. Zickgraf.

Dr. Zickgraf says there isn't concrete evidence linking Autism and behavioral problems to vaccines. The risks he's referring to are skin infections or allergic reactions to the shot. But even those are rare.