Amanda Peet and Jo Frost, two screen personalities who also are United Nations Foundation Global Advocates, have joined forces to plug the importance of vaccinations and the role parents and child care providers play in protecting the health of families.
Peet, in particular, is trying to debunk growing apprehension about vaccinating children.
“A lot of parents feel like they’re not being smart enough – that they’re drinking the Big Pharma Kool-Aid – if they go along with the recommendations of governmental and medical agencies,” Peet told FOX411. “But to suggest that the [Centers] for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the American Academy of Pediatrics – among others – are all in a massive conspiracy to downplay or hide the dangers of vaccines is a colossal and bewildering leap.”
According to U.N. Foundation statistics, a child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease across the globe. For the second consecutive year, the donor-based foundation to support U.N. causes and the Walgreens pharmacy chain have teamed up for the “Shot@Life” campaign, which will provide 6 million vaccines to children in developing countries. For every vaccine administered at its pharmacies, Walgreens pledges to donate one to a child in need.
Despite overwhelming support for vaccinations among health professionals, some influential skeptics continue to voice concerns.
For example, Heather Lounsbury, a licensed acupuncturist, founder of “Live Naturally Live Well” and author of “Fix Your Mood With Food,” says she still cautions parents to avoid vaccines that contain thimerosal – a substance that contains mercury – and recommends that those who want to get vaccinated or have their children vaccinated get only the ones that are necessary or for life-threatening conditions.
Peet, who is pregnant with her third child, said the biggest argument she hears from parents who don’t vaccinate – “But these diseases are so rare!” – is easily debunked.
“The only reason they can have that casual attitude in the first place is due to high rates of vaccination,” she said. “Of course these diseases are rare. Vaccines made them so, and kids who are vaccinated are actually protecting those who are not.”
Peet said another argument she routinely hears is, “Even if my kid were to get one of these diseases, [he or she] won’t die.”
“But infants and people who are immune-compromised are at risk of death,” she said. “Because so many parents are opting out of vaccinations or altering the schedule in the community where I live, my newborn could be exposed to these deadly diseases before he's able to be vaccinated.
“I believe parents have the right to know what the PBE (Personal Belief Exemptions) rates are at their kids' schools, just as they have a right to know whether their kids' schools are built in compliance with fire safety codes.”
For parenting expert Frost, known internationally as the “Super Nanny,” it’s about giving as many children as possible their best shot at a long and prosperous life.
“After 25 years in the parental arena, I have had the honor of sharing experiences that happen within the first five years of a child’s life – their first steps, first day of school, first words,” she said.
“I am a strong believer in immunization because all children should have the opportunity to reach these milestones.”
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Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay