Childhood vaccinations remain hot topic of debate

Wisconsin is one of 48 states to allow vaccine exemptions

A major measles outbreak is putting the debate over vaccinations back in the spotlight.

Now, even government officials are speaking out. Earlier this week, President Barack Obama urged parents to get their children vaccinated but others said it should be up to the parents to make that decision.

All 50 states require that children get their necessary vaccinations but Wisconsin is one of 48 states that allow exemptions for certain reasons.

One mother News 8 talked to on Tuesday said her children are vaccinated for the major diseases but recently she has decided to look at upcoming vaccinations more closely to make sure it’s the best decision for her kids.

Jaime Stegmaier is a mother of two boys, 8-year-old Austin and 7-year-old Cameron.

“My oldest is a dancer, he is in competition teams and my youngest just likes to pick on his brother,” said Stegmaier.

When both of her sons were born they got all of their immunizations including the MMR, or the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

“I did everything,” said Stegmaier. “I thought if I didn’t get it, I would be a bad parent.”

But more recently, Stegmaier has decided to take a closer look at vaccinations.

“Within the last year or two, we decided to cut back on things,” said Stegmaier.

Her youngest son, Cameron, suffers from chronic asthma.

“He gets pneumonia almost every single winter and he would always end up on steroids,” said Stegmaier.

This year, Stegmaier opted out of a flu shot for Cameron and she said he hasn’t needed steroids at all.

“You should be able to choose what you do give your kids and what you don’t or what you inject into their bodies,” said Stegmaier.

But a recent measles outbreak has others questioning a parent’s choice. Some 102 measles cases have already been confirmed in 14 states, including those bordering Wisconsin.

“We have had a few people who have previously chose not to immunize their child for one reason or another, coming in now saying they are afraid of the measles and would like at least that immunization,” said Dr. C.J. Menagh, a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic Health System.

Menagh said it is never too late to change your mind.

“If you are 96 we could give you the vaccine,” said Menagh.

Stegmaier doesn’t regret giving her kids the MMR vaccination.

“As far as the vaccines that have been eradicated or the measles or that kind of stuff, no I am not upset that we did those,” said Stegmaier.

But Stegmaier does wish she would have done more research before agreeing to everything when her sons were born.

“I just think case by case it’s different,” said Stegmaier.

Because there are confirmed cases of measles in states surrounding Wisconsin. Menagh said medical professionals are preparing for a possible outbreak in our area. For example, usually babies get their first MMR shot at a year old, if there is an outbreak, doctors are considering moving that timeline up to 6 months old.