9 Investigates: Vaccination rates in Charlotte area elementary schools

9 Investigates: Vaccination rates in Charlotte area elementary schools

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte area mom thought long and hard before speaking out about her decision to no longer vaccinate her children.

“I'm worried about threats. I'm worried about retaliation,” she said.

[RELATED: FDA chief: Feds might step in if states don't strengthen vaccine laws]

Content Continues Below

Christy is one of a growing number of parents not vaccinating their kids.

She has three boys and asked Channel 9 to conceal their identities.

“My kids are just like anyone else’s kids. They're like your kids,” she said.

The mother told Eyewitness News anchor John Paul she made her decision after researching vaccines online and reading about possible side effects.

When asked how her children got into school, she replied, "Well, North Carolina has medical and religious exemptions.”

In Christy’s case, she filed for a religious exemption, which is when someone signs a form saying that vaccinations go against their genuine beliefs.

The medical exemption must be signed by a doctor to be approved.

The state of North Carolina tracks how many kindergartners aren't vaccinated by the 30th day of school each year.

North Carolina immunization records from 2011 to 2018:

For example, 88 percent of kindergartners at Renaissance STEAM Academy do not have updated vaccinations and only about 2 percent of the students in Mecklenburg County have a documented exemption.

Paul took his findings to Mecklenburg County Medical Director Meg Sullivan.

She said recent outbreaks of measles and chicken pox across the country are not out of the question in our area.

She blames what she calls "junk science" for the increase in kids not getting their vaccines.

“There's a lot of misinformation (about) vaccines out there. There's a lot of fear out there, Sullivan said. “Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. And vaccines save lives.”

Lisa Jillani disagrees.

“Don't believe what I say, don't believe what your doctors say, do your own research. Form your own educated decision,” Jillani said.

She runs “PAVE,” or People Advocating Vaccine Education.

She started the group after she claims her oldest daughter was injured by a vaccine.

The group teaches parents about exemptions and how to find doctors to treat their unvaccinated kids.

“If you're not allowed to make your decisions for your own child, who are you going to surrender that power to?” she said.

Jillani does not have a medical background but believes a resurgence in eradicated diseases is a good thing and our bodies will learn to fight it naturally.

“I'm actually very excited that there’s more measles cases because that will restore natural immunity,” said Jillani.

When Paul asked what she would say to people who say she’s putting their kids in danger, Jillani responded, “I would absolutely say if you believe in vaccinations, you should make sure your kids are up to date and feel comfortable they're safe.”

Christy said she just wants the world to know her kids aren't dangerous.