Friday, July 13, 2012

Moms Who Vax: Kristen's Story

By Kristen Robinson

Kristen and her children
When my daughter was born three years ago I never questioned her having to be vaccinated. I read through the book What to Expect the First Year a million times and would always just sort of skim past that whole chapter. I didn't question her need for them, I was pro-vax, and I knew she needed the vaccines to stay healthy—although back then I would not have called myself pro-vax. I didn't even know there was such a thing as being pro or anti-vax! I just thought everyone vaccinated their children. I had no clue how heated of a topic vaccinations could be or how strongly people’s opinions on the subject could be.

When I was pregnant with my son, who is now eight months old, I knew I would vaccinate him as well. Or so I thought.

I did not have a great pregnancy. I did not enjoy being pregnant and just wanted it over with. So I can only equate my feelings of guilt over the way I felt about my pregnancy as to why I suddenly was having doubts about vaccinating. I was suddenly terrified something would happen to him.

I am "friends'” with a woman who is against vaccinating, so I reached out to her and she seized on my hesitation. She began sending me all types of emails and articles begging me to at least think of spacing the vaccines. When she saw that tactic wasn't working very well she started mentioning how a friend of hers has a little boy who had a reaction to the MMR at thirteen months, a reaction I happened to know was a 1 in 10 million doses kind of adverse reaction. Still, the thought that something could possibly happen had been planted in my head. I was starting to cave, and she knew it.

The final anti-vax article she sent to me was over the top, but I will admit that I read it and got scared, which the whole intent of the article and the woman who sent it. She knew what my weakness was and she preyed on it. I knew as I read it that it was fear mongering at its best, but I couldn’t stop reading. Then, after sitting there digesting it, I read it again and I started to see the flaws. There was nothing scientific or factual backing up any of the claims in this article. Nothing. In fact, it was purposely written to scare moms just like myself who are on the fence. It made me sick.

I turned completely in the opposite direction and I picked up the phone and made the appointment for my son to get his two-month shots. He has had all of his shots since. I now have this enormous feeling of gratitude towards this "friend" every time my son gets his vaccines because if she had not sent me that final article I would have in all likelihood joined her on the dark side and decided not to vax. Now, the thought of NOT vaccinating scares me much more than anything that could ever be written about adverse reactions or any of the other fear-inducing thoughts anti-vaxxers try to put into our heads as parents. 

I know that there are many, many other mothers out there just like myself who have a fear of vaccines. I hope by writing this that I have helped them know that they are not alone. My hope for every parent is for them to be informed by reliable information, to be presented with facts not fiction, and to feel confident and supported, not made fearful by claims that have nothing to back them up.

Kristen Robinson is a stay-at-home mom to a little girl, Presley, who is three, and her little man, Kadena, who is eight months.

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