GREAT FALLS- To vaccinate or not to vaccinate... that is the question many parents are facing heading into another school year.

By law, in order to attend public school, every child is required to have proof of vaccinations unless students have an exemption.

For health officials, this is a conversation every parent needs to be actively engaged in.

“Just having the dialogue. I'm happy to have a dialogue with somebody and hear their point of view, and maybe they would hear mine,” explains Erica Harp, the lead nurse for Great Falls Public Schools.

However, many parents choose to not vaccinate their child, which makes things a little more complicated when the school year rolls around.

“Just a horrible catch-up game for us. We, by law, need them to be immunized. You can also have a religious exemption or medical exemption, but, legally we need to have everything on file,” explains Harp.

Even if you decide to vaccinate your child, the work doesn't stop with one shot.

Although it doesn't happen often, if kids aren't up to date on their shots, their education can take a hit as well.

“We really try hard not to exclude, but by law, we can exclude children that don't meet the requirements. And so, in order for kids to have full access to their education, it's kind of just a simple step to get your vaccines taken care of,” Harp says.

However, for many people, the possible consequences of getting vaccinations are much worse.

We posted to Facebook asking people their opinion, and while many were in favor, those who weren't shared situations where their kids were sent to the ER after receiving a vaccine.  One woman claimed she lost her child due to vaccinations, despite her doctor not having a concrete answer as to why her child died right after receiving a vaccine.

Regardless of which side you're on, health officials are looking at a much bigger picture when it comes to vaccination. 

“Especially in light of what's going on with measles in the world and our nation, I think that you really need to consider what would happen to your child, or somebody else,” says Harp.

At the end of the day, health officials understand that choosing to vaccinate your child is just that, your choice.   

For more vaccine information on resources and regulations can click here.



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