Not Sure If You Should Vaccinate?

Posted on Jun 7th 2019 by Kelli Tice Wells, M.D

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Parents make decisions every day that they hope will keep their kids happy and healthy. What they eat. If they play an instrument or sport. Whether they need braces.

Your child’s doctor can offer advice on a lot of important topics. One of the most vital is getting their vaccinations on time. Without vaccines, they’re not fully protected from certain serious illnesses.

As a doctor, I made the decision to fully immunize my children. I couldn’t see a reason not to. There are so many diseases that only vaccines can prevent. For example, measles is an airborne disease. Since you can’t see the virus in the air, you can’t avoid it. The only way to avoid getting measles is to get vaccinated.

Recent Outbreaks: Vaccines Protect the Whole Community

I’m very concerned about the recent outbreaks of measles in the U.S. and hepatitis A in Florida. Both of these diseases are preventable by getting a vaccine. The outbreaks make it more important than ever to get vaccinated to protect you and your family.

I’m a doctor and the mother of 4. I’ve spent years in training and teaching others how to avoid getting sick. I love to care for families and help parents and emerging adults to make smart choices about their health care.

Some of my patients were children with medical conditions that made them more likely to catch contagious illnesses. I’ve helped their parents make good plans to keep them well. And I’ve worried with them as their children entered group settings and school environments. 

Now, more people have decided not to vaccinate. Some diseases that had almost disappeared in the U.S. are on the rise again. Young children and those with weakened immune systems are at an even greater risk of infection.

It’s easy to overlook the unintended consequences of our choices. Think of it this way: Your sneeze or cough might cause someone to catch measles or another vaccine-preventable disease. Then kids miss school. Parents miss work. And the complications from these diseases can be devastating or even fatal for some.

Here’s a great flier that may answer some of your questions about vaccinations.

Top 10 Reasons to Protect Your Child by Vaccinating   Spanish version
(, Immunization Action Coalition)

Vaccines Are Safe and Effective

Over the years, many of my patients and their parents have asked me about vaccine safety. My response was always the best one that I thought I could give: “My children are fully immunized.”

Vaccine schedules are designed to create immunity to disease as soon as a child’s immune system can respond. The goal is to protect a child from infection and possible complications as early as possible. 

Any parent who has cared for their very sick newborn can tell you about the anxiety and fear illness brings. When those who can be vaccinated do so, it helps to protect the very young and those with weak immune systems.

Here’s the bottom line: Vaccines are safe and effective. They are the best way to prevent infection with viruses causing certain illnesses. Refusing to vaccinate for any reason puts us at risk for outbreaks of diseases that have been well-controlled or eradicated.

I have never seen an actual case of measles because I completed my training after the disease was declared eradicated from the United States. I’m very concerned now to see the surge in measles cases, which are directly related to refusing vaccinations.

In Florida, there is an outbreak of hepatitis A that has now infected more than 1,000 people. Most or all of those people could have avoided hepatitis A with a simple shot.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you still have questions, talk to your doctor at your own pace. I’m not practicing medicine today, but my recommendations are the same. If I had children old enough to get their first vaccines, I would absolutely choose to fully immunize them according to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines

Vaccines are safe and effective. Getting them was my choice for my family, and it’s my recommendation for yours. Be informed. Arm yourself with accurate information. Ask questions. Believe your trusted physician. The best way to protect yourself and your family from illnesses like measles, hepatitis A and others is to be vaccinated. 

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Filed under: Prevention  

Kelli Tice Wells, M.D

Kelli Tice Wells, M.D., joined Florida Blue in 2018 as Senior Medical Director, Medical Affairs. She is the clinical lead for Florida Blue’s medical operations work in the areas of virtual health, social determinants of health, opioid overuse response, and corporate social responsibility. Dr. Wells’ interest in health disparities and culturally competent care began early in her training. Prior to joining Florida Blue, she was a National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholar and completed her NHSC service obligation in the Jacksonville area. Dr. Wells taught cultural competency for physicians and incorporated group and home visits into her clinical practice. She led patient-centered clinic flow redesign at numerous locations while serving as clinic Medical Director, Clinical Services Director and then County Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health. Dr. Wells also worked at the state level where she led a statewide public health initiative to advance health equity and worked to incorporate its principles into the daily work of the department. Dr. Wells is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Florida Academy of Family Physicians, and currently serves as chair of the Deans Council, Brooks College of Health at the University of North Florida. Dr. Wells received her bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University, her medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine and completed her residency at St. Vincent’s Family Practice Residency Program.

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