Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mom to Mom: Pam's Story

Pam's son Zachary
I received all of my vaccinations on time as a child growing up. My mother was a medical technologist and had taken blood from a patient infected with measles. She had seen these diseases first hand. I began to look more deeply into vaccines when I was pregnant with my first child, during the fall/winter of 2009. I knew the H1N1 flu vaccine was recommended, especially for pregnant women, and I was considering whether I should get the H1N1 vaccine as well as the regular flu vaccine. The first thing I did was talk to family and friends who were pregnant or had been pregnant to find out what they had done. I spoke to people who were pro-vaccine as well as people who were anti-vaccine. My own doctor's strong recommendation as well as hearing about pregnant women who had died from H1N1 led me to get both flu vaccines while pregnant. After my decision to vaccinate myself, I began further research about vaccines for my baby. I found that a lot of what I heard and read from the anti-vaccine side had a strong basis in fear and "what if" thinking. What if vaccines cause autism? What if vaccines are causing the rise in allergies among children? While these possibilities triggered what I would call the "fear mind," my rational mind was able to look at the research available online, much of which I found through Ashley's blog (Science for Sale). I saw that the research overwhelmingly supported the safety of vaccines. I could also see that the pro-vaccine argument was research-based, history proven, and logical. In addition to online research, I questioned pediatricians whenever I had the opportunity. I spoke with 5 different pediatricians who all recommended vaccinating without reserve. They said they vaccinated their own children and grandchildren. They spoke of the dangers of not vaccinating. We decided to vaccinate our son Zachary, and he has received all his vaccinations on time starting from the day he was born. He has been extremely healthy and the only reaction to the vaccines has been a couple hours of being tired and cranky. I do still get nervous when I bring him to get vaccinated. I wish the doctors gave more information about what he is being vaccinated for and the ingredients in the vaccine and the safety of those ingredients. Regarding those details, I had to find out the information on my own. I understand doctors and nurses are busy and weary of the vaccine debate, but I think it would help parents who are nervous about vaccines to have more access to information. 

Regarding my interaction with the anti-vaccine community, I have had a hard time with this because I have three cousins who I was very close with growing up who are not vaccinated. Their father is a chiropractor and for whatever reason did not trust that vaccines were safe. They are now all having babies of their own, and the vaccine issue has surfaced in discussion and emails. The discussion can get contentious, and I don't want to create a bad relationship with family members, so I try to relay the pro-vaccine argument as clearly and objectively as possible. Although I have not expressed my personal fears to my cousins for fear of ruining our relationship completely, I do fear for my son who is almost 11 months and has not received all his vaccinations yet. I want my children to be able to play with and know their cousins, but as a mother I know I have to protect my child in the best way I can. I would feel responsible if he contracted a vaccine-preventable illness from people who I knew were not vaccinated. I know that I'm taking a risk when my son is around these family members and its an issue that I still struggle with. 

If you are a parent who chooses to vaccinate and would like to share your story, please send us your story. We are also always looking for cute pictures of your vaccinated baby or child for our "Cute Vaccinated Kid of the Week"!

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