Immunized Kids Only, Please
How can I avoid non-vaccinators?
by Rebecca Odes & Ceridwen Morris
August 19, 2009
I am a homeschooling, attachment-parenting mother with an almost five-year-old and a one-year-old, and it seems every other homeschooler or AP family I meet isn’t vaccinating their kids. We fully vaccinate. I’m all for freedom of choice, but I’m getting more and more freaked out about being near them, especially with all the talk about the H1N1 virus (swine flu). I don’t want to endanger my family, but I don’t want to be a jerk, either. Is there some polite way to vet the non-vaccinators before we get too friendly? Can I say, “Hey, we’d love to hang out, but I’m afraid you’ll give my kids polio”? – Ms. Novax
Dear Ms. Novax,
We recently answered a related question. Your kids are definitely not in any real danger of getting polio or any of the other nasty diseases that have almost entirely been eradicated by vaccines. There are a few illnesses that do still pop up, though very rarely. But if your youngest is on the standard vaccine schedule, he/she has received almost all the shots for these. There is one last round at 15 months, so you’re not far off from the maximum coverage: your children should be protected from the diseases the vaccines fight.
As for H1N1, that’s one big question mark. It doesn’t sound like it’ll be an easy season for any of us – whether that means mostly excessive worry or actual high infection rates. The vaccine is in progress, but as of the writing of this column, it’s not clear when or even if it will be made available. There is talk, however, of children being a priority for the vaccine if and when it is deemed safe for distribution. And in this case, your kids can get the vaccinations at some point in the fall. Whatever happens, we anticipate much discussion of H1N1 prevention and treatment from public health officials.
We encourage you to talk to your pediatrician. Confirm which vaccines your kids have had, what they are scheduled for and discuss your concerns about H1N1. It’s important that your doctor know what’s going on with your kids’ environment. Much in the same way it would be prudent to discuss an overseas trip to a country where vaccines are not commonly used.
If your doctor agrees that your children’s safety is not an issue, there’s no reason for a confrontation. If you do bring vaccines up – in the interest of sharing – let other parents know you’re aware this isn’t the trend for the homeschooling AP parents in your area, but it’s a decision that works for you. Even a like-minded community can encompass lots of difference. All of you have experience charting paths away from the norm. This is just one way in which your path veers from theirs.
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