KC named ‘hot spot’ for disease outbreak risk due to parents opting out of vaccinating kids

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new study names the Kansas City metro as a "hot spot," vulnerable to outbreaks of preventable diseases. The reason? Children whose parents opted out of vaccination.

For Kyan Hammerbacher of Kansas City, keeping her kindergartner safe before she heads off to school in a few months means first making sure her daughter gets her vaccinations.

”I don’t want to preach to other people. I think they should be concerned with their own children. I just like my children vaccinated. I want them to be safe, “ Hammerbacher said as she watched her children playing Wednesday at Loose Park.

The controversial debate is now the center of a new study. The report says 18 states allow parents to opt their children out of school immunization requirements for non-medical reasons with religious or philosophical beliefs.

What’s more, Jackson County is among 15 urban counties where researchers say, during the 2016-2017 school year, more than 400 kindergartners received non-medical exemptions.

As a result, researchers say Kansas City is a “hot spot” for measles and other disease outbreaks.

“It’s a catch 22 because you want people to have an option,” Lee’s Summit dad Marc Bockes said.

Six months ago, Breona Johnson stopped getting her two daughters vaccinated.

“I feel like we shouldn’t vaccinate our children because, based on our medical history, doctors, health officials, really don’t know the specifics on what a family might have,” Johnson said.

Nonetheless, Rex Archer with the Kansas City Health Department still stresses the importance of getting children vaccinated.

“They’re not only good for your children, but vaccines are good to protect other children. Also, what vaccines do is they stop that outbreak, that wildfire from going through a community," Archer said.

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