Parents of children who cannot receive the measles vaccine urge parents of healthy children to vaccinate, saying it's unfair to put their children at risk of the outbreak. Jillian Kitchener reports.
Two-year-old Steven Coffee has had a liver transplant, and his father says he deserves a chance at life like everyone else. But the country's measles outbreak has presented complications. Steven can't be vaccinated for medical reasons, like many other children out there. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MAJOR STEVEN COFFEE, FATHER, SAYING: "It's frustrating for me as a parent. It makes me angry when I start to think that you say well, my child's life is more important than the masses." Virginia resident Steven Coffee Sr. says his son relies on the immunization of other children to be safe. But that's at odds with the so-called anti-vaccination movement... grown out of fear for potential side effects of vaccines. Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, which wants "informed consent" for parents over vaccinations, says the debate is about civil liberties. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BARBARA LEO FISHER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL VACCINE INFORMATION CENTER, SAYING: "Are we going to be in a position in the United States where government can license vaccines that the companies produce? The government recommends them, but the people don't have any ability to make any choice? In fact, if you try to make a choice, you are punished for making that choice." But doctor Susan Wollersheim says choosing NOT to vaccinate puts young babies and pregnant woman at risk... not to mention people who are immunosuppressed. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASE DOCTOR SUSAN WOLLERSHEIM, MD SAYING: "Measles for an immunocomprised patient is a very serious condition. It can be life threatening and it can cause very severe pneumonia, very bad encephalitis, and even death in these patients." Her message is this -- the MMR vaccine for measles is safe and children that are healthy enough to receive it, should -- not just for their own well-being .... but for the well-being of others.