Vaccination Incentive Program Draws Fire

May 12, 2011

A vaccination incentive program for students in Orange County's school districts is drawing criticism from some parents. The county Health Department is entering students into a drawing for an iPod or laptop if they get immunized for meningitis this month. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district says it has received 19 complaints. Alan Phillips says the drawing puts undue pressure on his children to get the vaccination, which is not required to enroll in school.

Alan Phillips: "When you're talking about a non-essential medical procedure that carries serious risks that can't be quantified, this raises a real question as a parent when my school system does this."

The CDC says some patients have experienced serious allergic reactions after getting the vaccine, but that the risk is extremely small. Orange County Health Department director Rosemary Summers says the incentive program is designed to prevent an infectious disease.

Rosemary Summers: "It is our obligation as a county public health agency to try to get as many children and adults vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases as we can because it protects the entire community."

Summers says students will not be immunized without their parents' permission. The contest offers additional entries if students receive the HPV or tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccines.