Mother of child with medical condition concerned about unvaccinated kids attending schools

Local News

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A mother of two is concerned about the laws surrounding vaccinations and how they could affect her child.

Sara Baile says her 4-year-old son, Wyatt, is not able to get vaccinated. She’s worried other unvaccinated children at his preschool could pose a risk to his health.

“Wyatt was born with an infant in stage liver disease called Biliary Atresia. He had a liver transplant back in December of 2015. So, from then on, he has not been able to get any live vaccines,” Baile said.

Baile says Wyatt was only five months old when he had the transplant. She says there are many obstacles when raising a child with health concerns.

“We’ve had to change our way of doing things. You know, Wyatt wears a mask a lot when we go out, especially big events or to the hospitals for his blood work for everything. There’s a lot of times we can’t have people over if they have a cold,” she said.

One thing she wants Wyatt to experience like a normal child is going to school with other children.

“Every time Wyatt gets sick, he has the risk of going into rejection. A couple times, he has been in rejection, we caught it soon enough that we’ve been able to reverse it…. People have told me ‘Oh, it’s just a rash. It will go away.’ Ok, well, that rash is going to cause my child serious health issues and maybe even death,” she said.

In Ohio, parents can choose whether or not to vaccinate their children, and they can still attend school regardless, which concerns Baile.

According to state law, parents may choose not to vaccinate their children and they cannot be denied into preschool if:

  • Immunization can cause health risks for the child;
  • The child’s parent or guardian has declined to have the child immunized for reasons of conscience, including religious reasons;
  • Immunization against the disease is not medically appropriate for the child’s age;
  • In the case of influenza, if the seasonal vaccine is not available.

We reached out to Wyatt’s school to see if they would like to speak on the topic. School officials did not wish to go on camera, but did say they are following the rules and regulations set forth by law.

Mahoning County Health Commissioner Patricia Sweeney said while the law supports families making those choices, science shows having high vaccine coverage protects the community.

“All the vaccine-preventable illnesses that used to circulate in large numbers all had association of severe illness and possible death. So, you can see why a child that cannot be immunized, if exposed to that disease, could become ill with that disease and have severe repercussions,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney says they keep track of how many unvaccinated children enter Mahoning County schools each year. She says more and more children are coming to school unvaccinated.

“The percentage of children coming into elementary school, kindergarten that are ready and fully immunized drops every year,” she said.

Baile says she hopes parents will consider children like hers when deciding whether or not to vaccinate.

“Be responsible, vaccinate. You’re going to save my child’s life by getting your child vaccinated,” she said.

Sweeney said the Mahoning County Health Board does offer vaccine clinics monthly. They take medical insurance, and those who don’t have insurance will still be able to get vaccinated.

You can find more information on their website.

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