Texas Children's Vaccine Center

Texas Children's Hospital has created a new center doctors hope will reduce the number of unvaccinated children and adults in the Houston area and around the country. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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The Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research provides the latest information on vaccines and research for parents and doctors. Executive Director Dr. Carol Baker says nearly one in three Houston children under the age of three isn't fully vaccinated against life threatening diseases, such as whooping cough, which has reached epidemic levels in adolescents and young adults. Baker says it's partly because vaccines have eliminated or reduced so many other diseases many people don't think they need them.

"Most parents are unfamiliar with many diseases, such as measles, don't realize these infections still pose a threat to their children, and to other children and adults, don't know how deadly and debilitating these diseases can be."

Whooping cough is so rampant and growing doctors have developed something they call the "cocoon strategy", which calls for vaccinating every member of a family with infants and young children. Dr. Mary Healey of Texas Children's explains why.

"Babies contract whooping cough from within their family circle. In one third of cases it's from their mothers, and in over three-quarters of cases it's someone who lives in their home. And that includes fathers, siblings, grand-parents and other members of their extended family."

There's a link to the Vaccine Awareness Center's website on our website KUHF dot org.  Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio.