SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida health officials said more parents are opting to not give their children vaccinations. These vaccines protect children from 14 deadly diseases.

Experts are spreading the word, trying to prevent the spread of disease. But, not all parents are on board.

Newly released figures show a drop in the number of Florida kindergartners and seventh graders who receive vaccinations. The number is below the recommended national average.

“If they are not fully protected, the diseases still exist and they will rear their ugly head,” Donna Keith with the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County said.

Why parents opt out

Many parents opt out for religious reasons or out of concern. “Vaccines, like any pharmaceutical product, carry risks that can be greater for some people than others because we’re not all the same,” Barbara Fisher, president of the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center, said.

Fisher said some vaccines create terrible side effects, including convulsions and brain inflammation. In some cases, vaccines just don’t work, she said.

Parent Cheryl Kindred believes parents should be free to choose whether to give their children vaccinations. “Every parent should think really hard about all the different medical decisions we have to make for kids,” Kindred said.

Officials agree it’s important for parents to do their own research and figure out what’s best for the health of the child. “(Parents) have the responsibility to do their best to raise their child with their personal belief system,” Kindred said.

Health officials maintain people should not be worried. “I don’t think they should be concerned with vaccines. I think they should be concerned about the diseases that the vaccines protect against,” Keith said.

The Florida Department of Health has plenty of resources available to answer any of your questions.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON RIGHT NOW: