I am generally not one to bring up hot-button issues. This isn’t because I don’t have an opinion — I have tons of them. It’s because I hate to be inflammatory. But today I feel like I have to write what has been swimming around in my head.
People need to vaccinate their kids. I am part of an unheard subset of the population, because I am pro-vaccine. And I feel like not enough moms from my camp are represented in the debate.
I just can’t understand how the generation of current parents have such a strong opposition to vaccines.
It started with the fears that the MMR vaccine was somehow linked to autism. These allegations have been proven to be completely and utterly false. But the fear and resistance remain, and for some it’s beyond reason. For many parents, people who in every other way are rational and educated, there is no scientific study that will convince them of the safety of vaccinations. In certain pockets around the country, vaccination rates are waning and breakouts of diseases long absent from memory are occurring.
I think one of the things keeping my generation from vaccinating is that none of us have seen real outbreaks of the diseases these vaccines are designed to protect our kids against (and that most of us were protected against ourselves). We don’t understand what life was like when children were at constant risk of getting polio, measles, mumps, or pertussis. And we take it for granted.
There is also the fact that the process of inoculating our children is kind of violent. We are expected to hold our poor babies down while they are given shots, sometimes four or five of them, while they cry out for us. It’s heartbreaking.
But here’s the thing. There are parts of our population, like young babies, the elderly, and the seriously ill, that depend on those around them to be vaccinated. Did you know its actually more safe to just live in a highly vaccinated area than to be vaccinated in a relatively unvaccinated community? This is because no vaccine is 100 percent effective, and if you’re more likely to be exposed, you’re more likely to get sick. (Source)
Just ask Megan Campbell, whose infant son contracted measles from an unvaccinated boy in a doctor’s waiting room. Luckily the baby survived, but only after enduring terrible rashes, fevers peaking at 106, a loss of six pounds (one third of his body weight), and weeks in the hospital. This was because one parent made the choice to not vaccinate her son.
What do you think it will take for people to take the risks involved in not vaccinating our children more seriously? If you don’t vaccinate your children, what would it take for you to change your mind?
image : flickr | Mikenan1