Discussions on vaccinations inevitably become heated. It’s one of those topics that people are usually either for or against, with very few on the fence.
Well here sits someone on the fence.
For years I believed that to vaccinate was the only choice. Before I met A, I would never have questioned that. But my husband has the most amazing way of challenging me to think outside the box. Confession: It pisses me off sometimes! There I was in my own little world and bam! Bubble burst! Hello real world.
Now that we have Molly though, I’m happy for his influence. I don’t ever want to take anything for granted when it comes to making the right decisions for our children. His thoughts on vaccinations made me question everything I had ever believed about them and so when the time came to make that decision (and yes, it is a choice as far as I’m concerned), I was torn.
I believe in vaccinations, I really do. They have and continue to save countless lives by reducing the incidence of infectious disease. But I began to feel a little unsure whether it was the right decision for us when reading about what exactly is in vaccines and the possible side effects from those ingredients.
I know, I know. Health officials and organizations assure us vaccines are safe, even for babies. But how can they know for sure? What if it’s one of those things they thought was beneficial but thirty years later it turns out it’s not? Like, say, smoking?? And babies bodies are so little! How can they handle what’s injected without consequence?
It’s my job as a parent to protect my child. I’m not going to let someone make decisions for me. I wasn’t raised that way. I’m going to research, ask questions and form my own opinion. The most important question to me, when making any decision for Molly, is: what impact will this decision have on my child? Or could possibly have on my child?
Such questions need answers and so I did some research. Both sides make valid points but I found it difficult to weed through the rather extreme and negative comments each side had for the other. I looked at studies, but with a careful eye. I took statistics. Data can be manipulated. I looked up data as opposed to studies of data, such as the incidence of certain diseases in our area, the number of people vaccinated vs. the number of people not and how effective are vaccines (they don’t work in 10-15% of those immunized. That’s a statistic from Health Canada). I read documents on government sites, on non-government sites. I read the Vaccine Book by Robert Sears, which was by far the most neutral explanation of vaccines I found. I talked to my doctor and found out which vaccines she uses so that I could read the ingredients (it’s one Dr. Sears recommends as having the lowest amount of Aluminum uses as an adjuvant).
A and I had numerous discussions. We talked about not vaccinating and the impact that could have (contrary to popular opinion, in Ontario, the public education system cannot deny your child entry if they’re not vaccinated as long as you have a signed letter from your doctor stating that it’s for religious or philosophical reasons). We talked about delaying her vaccinations until six months, so that we could give her body a chance to build it’s immune system (there’s research that vaccinations interfere with this). We talked about which vaccines we want her to have and which we’d like to opt out of. We talked and talked and talked.
And after all of this, even after Molly was born, we still hadn’t decided. What to do? Either choice t could potentially expose our child to harm.
In the end, for me in particular, the decision came down to one thing. I know the possible risks of vaccinations. But the risk of Molly catching a disease that could cause her to die far outweighs those risks. We live in a highly multicultural neighbourhood and soon enough Molly will be interacting with other children and families that travel all over the world, to areas where the diseases Canada vaccinates against are prevalent. We just can’t take that chance with her.
We chose to vaccinate, following the recommended schedule but opting out of the Rotavirus vaccine and the chicken pox vaccine.
I still feel iffy about it. Whenever I take her in for her shots I feel apprehensive. The What Ifs start to take over.
Such is the way of parenting I guess. You make a decision and hope for the best! But I’m happy that I asked the questions I asked. I’m glad that I maintain that skepticism. I feel confident that it’ll help us make better choices for our daughter.
Just a quick side note, I don’t intend for this post to incite a debate. It’s more of an accounting of our decision concerning vaccinations. But I want to say for the record that I don’t think it’s right for people to criticize others for their decision not to vaccinate. They haven’t done so lightly, having done, I’m sure, extensive research on the matter. To accuse them of the hateful things I’ve read here and there is uncalled for. They are not bad parents. We’re all doing what we think is best for our children.