Getting vaccinated used to be something that parents did blindly because the doctor said it was best. In recent years, though, it has become the new “norm” to question your child’s doctor at every turn. Should my child really take this medicine? Should my child really get these shots? What are the side effects or potential outcomes?
At the pediatricians office that our family goes to, before a child receives any shots you are handed a piece of paper with information on it. This paper states what immunizations the child will be getting, the risks of the diseases it will protect them from and a list of potential side effects. These side effects typically range from sleepiness and a mild fever up to the very rare possibility of seizures or death. It does happen, there are still flaws in modern medicine but this is why the sheet also comes with what to look out for and what to do if something seems wrong.
While some vaccinations only protect against one thing like the IPV vaccine for Polio, others may protect your children from more like the DTaP or MMR vaccine. The MMR is one of the little pokes that causes somewhat of a debate. There was a publication years ago that claimed the MMR vaccine could cause Autism. Though this theory (which was printed as fact) has since been proven incorrect, the battle continues but now with new ammunition.
Over the course of the last ten years or so preventable diseases such as the Measles have begun to make a comeback. Parents believe that vaccines can cause cancer, organ failure, learning disabilities and more. These claims are unsubstantiated, outbreaks of preventable diseases, however, are proven to have the ability to kill. Young children (under twelve months) who have yet to receive their full vaccines are at an extreme risk for dying because of viral infections and preventable diseases.
Doctors have worked out a schedule for immunizations that works best to protect children against deadly diseases. This schedule, however, is based on a theory that everyone will vaccinate their children. So while some parent’s still refuse the vaccines based on little to no knowledge there are a lot of babies, young children and elderly people at risk.
A friend of a friend told you that the DTaP vaccine can kill your child but doesn’t inform you that the vaccine protects them from Whooping Cough and Tetanus. You also decide against having your Tetanus shot at your physical and end up passing Whooping Cough to your child, because no one ever told you that the two were linked. No one ever told you that Whooping Cough can kill too…
Maybe you plan a vacation and Disneyland doesn’t check your child’s vaccination history before you go in. Your kid has Measles, but you don’t know it yet because the symptoms haven’t shown themselves. You ride every ride, use the bathrooms a few times and let your child sip from the water fountain. Another family with a newborn arrives so that their older children can have some fun too and that newborn falls ill just days later…
Hepatitis sounds like a yucky thing but as far as you know, your child isn’t at risk. Until one day someone has a bloody nose, uses your bathroom and drops some blood on the sink. Your non-vaccinated child plays in the sink later and then shows signs of jaundice down the road, you go to the doctor only to find that it’s Hepatitis. It’s incurable and can cause liver failure or cancer…
I don’t mean to come across so brash but I have young children, both receive their shots when the doctor says. Though I have researched the vaccinations and seen all the same sheets before, I still read them every time they are handed to me. It reassures me that I am doing the right thing because even though the side effects sound scary the risks of not having the shots sounds much worse. My youngest has yet to even complete his first year of immunizations. If a non-vaccinated child with some preventable disease came in contact with him…I could lose him forever. The thought alone brings me tears.
Ultimately, in the end, it is the “parent’s right” to chose. Just understand what you’re choosing. Your child could come down with a deadly disease which could hurt them or someone else.
Why do I believe that my children’s doctor knows best? Because I am not a doctor. I did not go to college for eight years and open a practice that has operated for over fifty years. I do not handle sick children and well visits day in and day out. I do not stay up to date on every new procedure or treatment. That is not my job.
My job is to do what is best for my kids.