ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) — As the mother of six-year-old Jay and two-year-old Jazz, Mayo Clinic nurse Sara Conway has faced many important decisions throughout the course of her young girls’ lives; what foods to feed them, what school to enroll them in, and whether or not to start the girls on the traditional series of childhood vaccinations.
“We are seriously concerned about the CDC’s recommendations. It’s a huge amount of vaccinations in a short amount of time,” said Conway.
After much research and debate, Conway and her husband decided no.
After 23 years of experience working as a registered nurse, Conway is part of a growing group of families throughout the state who have decided to abstain from vaccinating their children.
“We are lucky enough to live in Minnesota which has a conscientious objection clause,” said Conway. She was cautious about sharing her feelings. “I’m speaking as a parent, not as a Mayo Clinic nurse, and I’m not speaking for the Clinic on this. My girls mean everything to me.”
It is this apparent rise in the number of unvaccinated children that is alarming other health officials in the area.
“The vaccines are a victim of their own success. As we eradicate disease, like polio, people no longer remember why we are vaccinating against polio,” said Dr. Robert Jacobson of Mayo Clinic.
Much of the national dialogue regarding vaccinations was sparked by a study by British Dr. Andrew Wakefield, which initially linked autism to childhood vaccinations, but has since been debunked.
“We don’t have a series of studies that linked autism to measles vaccines, we have one. What we have since then are dozens of studies and we found none,” said Wakefield.
Despite questions regarding the study’s validity, the debate has been fueled by countless celebrities who have stepped out in opposition to traditional vaccinations- a series that typically begins at two months with cycles of several vaccinations including hepatitis B, rotavirus, diphtheria and tetanus.
This week, Minnesota state health officials confirmed a case of measles in a 19-month-old child.
129 cases and 13 outbreaks have been reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the past 4 months, the highest in that time period for the past 18 years.