State shells out $400,000 to Tenn. Department of Health on vaccine promotions


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    Tennessee is trying a new approach to get parents to vaccinate their children.

    The Tennessee Department of Health is stepping up its game with a PR campaign to convince parents concerned about side effects and autism.

    The CDC reports that there have been more than 200 confirmed cases of measles in 11 states so far this year. It's a disease doctors say can easily be prevented with a vaccine.

    “Measles, Mumps, German Measles, Polio, Tetanus, several kinds of Meningitis. It's a big, long list,” says Vanderbilt Medical Center Doctor of Infectious Diseases William Schaffner.

    He’s been an infectious diseases specialist for more than 45 years.

    He says vaccines are extremely effective and he'll do everything he can to get that word out.

    In his lifetime, Schaffner has seen diseases like Measles have devastating effects, but he's also seen them go away thanks to vaccines.

    The problem is, a lot of people haven't lived to see that.

    “Now we have a generation or two of people who don't know about the diseases and are skeptical about the vaccines,” Schaffner said.

    He says many people often don't realize how serious the diseases are that vaccines have prevented, and how susceptible their children will be if they grow up without them.

    “Now, I think it's a tragedy that we have created vaccination gaps that allow these diseases to return. I never thought I would see that,” Schaffner said.

    In May, The Tennessee Department of Health will start a campaign spending $400,000 on vaccine promotions, hoping to raise the vaccination rates.

    Eric Robinson has four daughters, all of whom are vaccinated, and he supports the idea.

    “If you can keep your kids, and other kids, from being sick, then I don't see the harm in it,” Robinson said.

    Mike Boger also has two vaccinated kids and says we need to educate people, even if we all must pay for it.

    “I pay money for people who don't want to do s**t all the time, it comes out of my taxes. At least this way it's helping people,” Boger said.

    But not everybody's on board, and some, like Paul Brown, still believe they can be harmful.

    “I've heard of children that I’ve personally known that have died because of vaccination,” Brown said.

    This campaign will run through October 2020.

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