Kristen O'Meara saw proof of the dangers of having no vaccination after her three children fell ill due to rotavirus. She was a huge supporter of the anti-vaccination movement, which claimed that vaccines cause autism in kids.
O'Meara told ABC News that her three young daughters' sickness could have been prevented if she had them vaccinated, adding that she felt "awful" and "really guilty." O'Meara, a teacher outside of Chicago, and her husband also got sick.
Rotavirus is a contagious virus that causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its symptoms are watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pain.
Infants and young children are the most vulnerable to rotavirus. The disease can make them severely dehydrated that it requires hospitalization. At times, rotavirus can lead to death.
According to O'Meara, she was convinced of the dangers of vaccines after scouring "everything," though she only read materials that are anti-vaccination. She admitted that it was a mistake on her part that she didn't do research "from both sides" before deciding that her girls (all under 7 years old) don't need vaccination after they were born.
Now, all of O'Meara's daughters have been fully vaccinated. The children underwent an aggressive regimen that put them up to date on recommended vaccination shots.
The CDC recently published a guide titled "2016's Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old." The guide reiterates that vaccines protect children from a host of diseases such as chicken pox, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, pneumococcus, rotavirus, rubella and tetanus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) both stress that vaccines are safe and necessary for every child. In September 2015, the AAP reminds that delaying vaccines "only leaves a chil d at risk of disease for a longer period of time; it does not make vaccinating safer." The organization also insists that there are quite a number of medical literature disproving vaccination's alleged dangers.
Last month, the AAP issued a policy statement titled "Countering Vaccine Hesitancy," which contains information and guidelines to assist pediatricians in the U.S. in their dealings with parents who refuse vaccinations for their children. It also said that physicians can decline to treat or dismiss patients who refuse recommended vaccines, though these doctors should take note of several factors before this decision. The organization encourages doctors to convince as many families as possible about the safety and rationality behind immunization before "firing" the patients.
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