Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Intentionally Unvaccinated"

I came across a story on the Parents Who Protect blog that sent a chill down my spine. It was about a Hib meningitis outbreak here in Minnesota in 2009, which killed an infant and sickened four others. Hib is short for Haemophilus influenza type B. It's one of the basic childhood vaccinations. 
It's a terrible disease, and it's an unbearable story. But there's something about this story that makes it even more unbearable. The child who died, and two who were hospitalized, were intentionally unvaccinated. Parents of two of these children objected to vaccines; the parents of the third had delayed the vaccine until the child would be five years old. The news reports do not tell us who is who, and it really doesn't matter. The story made my heart bleed. I think about what it must feel like to be in those parents' shoes today and can only be in that place for moments. I don't wish this kind of grief on anyone. "We had a death from a child who was unvaccinated," Kristen Ehresmann, RN, MPH, of the Minnesota Department of Health said.  "We want to encourage parents who have delayed or refused vaccination to reconsider." 
It was stories like these--true stories--that transformed me from a vaccine-hesitant parent to one who is pro-vax. The true weight of my decision making process was laid bare, and I had to reexamine why I had come to my conclusions, what resources I'd consulted, and whether I was operating on fact or fear. We make these decisions for our children, because they can't; and we owe it to ourselves to base those decisions on the facts. I didn't want to be in the position of these heartbroken parents, wondering if I should have done things differently.  

If you are looking for more reassurance that the anti-vax claims are without merit, please consider reading Seth Mnookin's piece in The Huffington Post that ran recently

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