Yes, I did choose to vaccinate my kids actually...

I know I rarely blog at the moment, but this has been boiling away for weeks now. I've always been pro-vaccinating, but it's an issue that keeps rearing it's ugly head for me. A few weeks ago when I was putting Kiz on the waitlist for childcare and the woman told me I'd need to verify that he'd been vaccinated. That's fine, it's what they need to do to protect us all, but when I said that he was fully vaccinated she almost looked surprised. The next week I took him in for his 18 month 'well baby check' at the Early Childhood Health Centre and when the nurse looked at his records she said that she was very pleased to see him fully vaccinated. Again, there was some level of surprise there.

Here comes the ranty part: I'm guessing that parents who refuse to vaccinate have never watched their tiny baby struggling to breathe, drowning in their own thick secretions despite hourly suctioning, from a disease that is routinely vaccinated against. I'm willing to bet good money that those non-vaccinating parents have never watched their baby go blue and limp as he stops breathing, only being rubbed back to life by hospital staff. I'm pretty sure they haven't had to press the red emergency call button or scream to the nurses' desk for help.

I've been there, done that and I'm thankful every day that I got to bring my tiny baby home with me, and that he's growing up into a funny, determined, clever, loving toddler. Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, makes older kids and adults sick. It makes us cough and cough (another name for the illness is 'The Hundred Day Cough' and it's no exaggeration) but after that generally healthy adults get well. Unfortunately it's not quite so simple for babies and small children. Babies die of this illness.

Wakefield's harmful hoax on the link between autism and vaccines was disproven about 10 years ago, and one well designed study after another continues confirms that there is no link but parents are still refusing to vaccinate their kids.

I'm quietly confident that the majority of parents who don't vaccinate their kids don't know anyone who has died or been left crippled by polio either but yet they feel that the potential harm to their child from the vaccine is higher than the risk to their child of contracting one of the diseases we vaccinate against. These people (and I know one or two) are sensible. The people I know are well educated and responsible parents, they buy cars based on their safety ratings, they do a full reference check before they let anyone babysit their kids (I read somewhere that it's middle class, university educated, parents where vaccination rates are dropping, I'll try to find a reference) but they clearly don't have a basic grasp of statistics. I am having difficulty finding the numbers on side effects and adverse reactions, however vaccines are many times safer than the diseases they prevent.

And really, this is the key point. It really is safer to vaccinate your kids than not. We all love our kids and want the best for them. We don't think twice about popping them in the car and driving somewhere, many of us have or visit backyard pools/ponds, almost all of us drink hot beverages and do at least some cooking but statistically all of these are far more likely to injure or kill our kids than giving them their shots.

I'm not going to get into herd immunity here (check out this animation for a good explanation), but every parent who exercises their choice to not vaccinate makes it more dangerous for those who can't be immunised for some medical reason and for the people whose response to the vaccination does not give them total immunity. If we can learn anything from the lessons in places like Haiti, with it's cholera epidemic, we are really only one natural disaster, one sick person, away from an epidemic. So yes, I know that vaccines aren't perfect, but I want to give my kids the best possible chance to stay healthy throughout their lives, so I choose to vaccinate my kids.

Kiran, 5.5 weeks old

1 comment:

Xanth said...

Every time my MIL goes on a rant about the evils of vaccination, I bite my lip and think about the two people - one infant, one 18 year old school friend - who died of meningococcal. Not that it's an either/or, and as you said the link has been well and truly disproven anyway - but really, who wouldn't take the risk of an autism-spectrum disorder over a deadly infection that kills in less than 24 hours with very little warning?