Wisconsin is facing a health crisis, and even if you make all the right choices, you could still get sick.
That's because millions of Americans aren't up to date on their vaccinations, and diseases thought to be nearly eradicated are making their way back into the world.
12-year old Ellie Hall is a star athlete. She plays volleyball, basketball, and soccer. But a year ago, she could barely make it to the gym.
"It was really bad, I was always coughing and I sometimes threw up after I coughed," she recalled.
Ellie had pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Even though she'd had all her vaccinations, she got sick.
"II was up in the middle of the night coughing, my face would be red, my eyes would water," she remembered.
Ellie's father, who is also a family practitioner, was surprised she got sick.
"I hadn't seen a case in my office for several years," Dr. Bill Hall told us. "And we weren't aware of any outbreaks in the area at that time and she was completely up to date on her immunizations."
But vaccinations aren't 100% effective. And, Dr. Hall said, "The reality is that pertuissis is definitely out there, I think we have a tendency to think of it as sometimes as an old time disease like polio or small poxx that we don't need to worry about anymore, but that is not the case at all," he added.
Vaccines will protect everyone... if everyone is immunized. That way, the whole community is safe and outbreaks don't happen. But with low vaccination rates like we have in Wisconsin, particularly in Milwaukee, it's a problem.
"It's like kindling waiting for the spark and once you have an exposure and you have a certain percentage of the student body unimmunized you have an outbreak occur," said Paul Biedrzycki, an epidemiologist and infective disease specialist with the Milwaukee Health Department.
Biedrzycki said MIlwaukee is especially at risk because of low vaccination rates in the city. "It's a big public health challenge," he said.
In the city, only about 45% of kids under two have had all their shots. The state of Wisconsin runs about 59%.
One big problem is that the immunization schedule is complicated. Kids need 11 shots covering 15 diseases in a six year period. And there are still parents who aren't convinced vaccinations work, parents who believe they cause autism, and parents who, for religious reasons, opt not to vaccinate their children.
"These diseases are real, these diseases are still very common, it's not like they disappeared from the face of the earth. And falling vaccine rates will actually increase everyone's risk of catching these diseases," said Dr. Lyn Ranta, who oversees a new vaccine initiative at Children's Hospital and in the city of Milwaukee.
Time, she said, is of the essence. The worst pertussis outbreak in 50 years is sweeping the nation. Cases have already been reported in Wauwatosa.
That's why parents like Kelly Twigger, who lives in Mequon, are vigilant about getting those shots done, on time. We caught up with her as she took her two-year old son Liam to his checkup and vaccination appointment.
"We depend on Dr. Bencik's opnion on what's important to protect our children and because our kids have gone to daycare, we have two working parents in our family and it's important to protect them," she said.
As for Ellie-- she's completely recovered after being sick for more than 100 days.
The vaccine that doctors say nearly everyone needs to get is this year's flu shot. It protects not just against regular flu, but also H1N1. Doctors are also working on a new schedule of vaccines that would be less confusing for parents, and would involve fewer shots for kids.