Recently, I have read two articles that, I think, give great insight to why parents should vaccinate their children.
The first, from Wired, details how, by parents refusing to vaccinate their children because of junk science, we are all becoming more at-risk: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/10/ff_waronscience/all/1
The second, published in Slate, is the story of a mother who can’t send her leukemia-stricken child to certain daycare centers because of unvaccinated children: http://www.slate.com/id/2232977/
I alert you to both of these articles because it’s, unfortunately, a topic that has recently sparked great debate in our country. Soon before Parker was born, I wrote a short piece on vaccinations: https://millennialdad.wordpress.com/2009/07/24/a-little-longervaccination/
And honestly, I think I gave too much slack to parents that choose not to vaccinate. Vaccination. Is. Necessary. This is the long-term health of one’s child. Was it fun to watch my son be vaccinated at the pediatrican? Absolutely not. Did he cry? You bet he did, screamed even. Did he feel bad afterwards? Not so much bad as just wanting loved. Am I glad we did it? Ab-so-lutely. I know that the benefits to vaccine far outweigh the potential side effects.
And for those children that cannot be vaccinated, as Paul Offitt pointed out, such as newborns, transplant, and cancer patients, they depend on the herd of us to provide their immunity. The likelihood of them developing measles or rotavirus goes down greatly when everyone in contact with them is vaccinated. Recently, in January, in Minnesota, there was an outbreak of Hib meningitis that sickened four children and killed an infant. Of the five, one was too young to receive vaccination, one had an immune deficiency, and three were unvaccinated. The child who died was among the three whose parents refused to vaccinate.
This past Tuesday, my wife and I stood in a line at the Columbus Public Health Department to get our H1N1 vaccines, because as parents, it is our duty to protect our 10 week-old son since he can’t receive it. It’s why we got our seasonal flu shots, so that our son doesn’t get it.
Again, this isn’t about love. I don’t feel like parents that choose not to vaccinate don’t love their children or anything. But it’s about protecting our children. And I feel like it’s a parent’s responsibility to keep their children healthy and safe. Is it really better parenting to vaccinate? Well, I at least would go ahead and say yes. I don’t love my son anymore than someone else loves theirs, but I feel like I’m making the right choice in his health to vaccinate. And I feel as if it is the better parenting decision.
One could argue that vaccines are the greatest medical innovation known to man. In 1952, when polio was at its peak, it killed 3000 people per year. Since the inception of the polio vaccine, that means about 150,000 thousand people have not died at the hands of polio. And honestly, one is too many. My child is being vaccinated. Every vaccine. On time.