Should I vaccinate my child? Are vaccinations really safe?
This is one of the biggest questions for parents in the 21st Century. I first found myself at this crossroads more than 4 years ago when I was pregnant with my last baby. I had vaccinated my first two children without question, without knowing there was even a debate to be had about it. But when our 3rd baby was much delayed in ways our first two weren’t, I began to research the topic for the first time. In the end, we stopped our 3rd child’s vaccinations at around 1 year, and our youngest has never been vaccinated at all.
However, I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m not going to guilt-trip you into stopping your vaccine schedule or brow-beat you if you’ve already shot your baby full of the things. What I am going to do, is ask you to take the time to research the pros and cons of vaccinating from as many unbiased resources as possible.
That means, don’t only rely on the information that your doctor gives you, or your pre-med classes, or (heaven forbid) the vaccine manufacturers themselves. As far as the first two goes, I believe whole-heartedly that they mean well, and believe what they say. But that doesn’t make them right. They taught things in school 50 years ago that we now know to be false. But they meant well and they believed what they said. My grandmother’s heart doctor told her that margarine was good for her. I know that to be a complete fallacy. But he meant well, and he believed what he said. As for the latter, I under no circumstances think they qualify for either meaning well, or believing what they say and that’s precisely why you have to educate yourself on the issue.
Vaccinating is a pretty darn important issue that needs to be thought through critically. Which means false dichotomies like “I was vaccinated and I turned out just fine” really have no room in the discussion. You were not vaccinated to the degree that children are today. Not by far. In the 1950′s there were 4 vaccines. By the mid-80′s, when I was coming along, there were 7. Today, children receive as many as 24 shots before they’re 2 years old. * That is a whole different ballgame.
Once you’ve done the research, if you decide to go ahead with vaccinating, then I’m fine with that. I respect an educated choice. What I fear, and have experienced, is that many people don’t research vaccinations at all, they simply let fear and intimidating campaigns decide for them. I was once friends with a girl who admitted to praying especially hard each time her baby would get shots, afraid to get them, but too afraid not to. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Don’t let anyone bully you into vaccinating.
A California study recently found that the Whooping cough outbreak from 2010 was linked to vaccinated children, not unvaccinated children. * The reason this study particularly caught my eye was because in 2010, when I went to my local health department to inquire about their vaccination schedule and/or waivers – I was met with aggression. I was intimidated with stories of whooping cough and basically told I was subjecting my children to risk of imminent death if I didn’t comply. Despite having not given my personal opinion, the lady working the office was hostile towards me. When I asked, kindly, if they had ingredient information on their vaccines that I could look at, she couldn’t produce anything to show me. She then bullied me into signing a very intimidatingly titled form called “Refusal to Vaccinate”.
I walked into that place a curious civilian, not under the order of any doctor’s notice to vaccinate. I was simply trying to learn more information about the rules and regulations of my local health care system (we hadn’t been in the state long). I tried to ask the lady if I could simply come back later, after I had time to think through the decision more, but she insisted I had to sign her scarily titled form before I could walk out. Honestly, I was pretty shook up by the time I got home and the shock wore off. I couldn’t understand why my gentle, inquisitiveness was met with such hostility.
If this (or worse) happens to you, know your rights. No one can force you into vaccinating. There are waivers that exist for people who, after much research, decide that they’re not willing to risk vaccinating their baby. Do the research. It is your friend.
Now, the big question: would we ever be willing to vaccinate in the future? The short answer is yes. I was mostly concerned with protecting the brain development of my babies under age two, when the brain is growing at a fantastic rate. (Interestingly, I can honestly say that my youngest has been the most healthy of any of my children and he’s incredibly bright, though I admit there could be more than one factor for that). But in the future if we want to move to a 3rd world country I would not be opposed to the required vaccinations. But I’ve done the research.
Did you do the research? Did it lead to you holding off vaccinations?
photo by shannon matteson