A Coal City family faces penalties and jail time for not meeting enrollment immunization requirements, but they say they're living with an immunization injury that left their first child autistic.

School started this week for students all across our region, but one little boy in Raleigh County has yet to step into his kindergarten classroom.

It's a lack of vaccinations that's keeping the youngster out of school.

His parents said when his older brother was vaccinated, he developed autism within a week and they don't want to see their baby boy go through the same thing.

Larry Cunningham said the science is unclear about a connection between a mixture of vaccines and autism. "They can't tell me for sure it didn't and I can't tell them for sure it did. We're just trying to be cautious, so we don't have another child with autism." said Cunningham.

Both parents said they want their son to begin his public education, but not at the price their oldest son paid.

Misty Cunningham said she knows there's a risk that comes with a lack of immunization. "If we give it to him it's on our shoulders as a parent. You have to try to protect your child and also give him the chance of having measles, mumps, rubella, something that could kill him or you could give him something that could kill his personality, his way of life, him actually growing up to be a productive member of society. So it's such a hard decision to make." Cunningham said.

Studies neither definitively confirm nor deny a link between vaccinations and autism, but recent published research finds children with siblings who have autism have a 1-in-4 chance of developing the condition, while for most children the odds are 1- in-110.

Ann Sammons with the Raleigh County Board of Education said without complete immunizations, or an exemption, the law prevents a child from entering the school system.

Candy Hurd with the Beckley-Raleigh County Public Health Department said any physicians statement must be specific regarding the request for an immunization exemption.

While the Cunninghams did have a letter from a physician, it wasn't specific.

"A physician can not just write a blanket statement stating this child should be exempted from vaccines. The statement would have have to be specific to the child. State the medical reason why that child couldn't receive each individual component, like diphtheria, tetanus, purtussis, polio. It can't just say vaccines as a whole. It's got to address each one." Hurd said.

The Cunninghams said they are willing to have their child vaccinated, but they want to do it one shot at a time as opposed to a cocktail of vaccines that are currently being given.

The state of West Virginia only allows medical exemptions from vaccines. There are no exemptions for philosophical or religious reasons.