There are a lot of important decisions you have to make as a new parent—and even before you’re “officially” a parent, whether you go the traditional preggo route or adopt. Here’s a sampling: Will you breastfeed, if you can? What kind of diapers will you use? What kind of mattress will you buy for your crib? (This was a biggie for me, since I’m such a big fan of my natural latex mattress.) Where will the baby sleep for her first few months? What detergent will you use to wash his clothes and sheets and towels? If you formula feed, what brand will you use, and which bottles? What products will you use on Baby’s delicate skin?
Then your baby arrives and you realize that you’re more deeply in love than you could have ever thought possible, and the decisions keep coming. Like…vaccinating your child.
Let me take a moment, before I dive into this topic, to make it abundantly clear that these are my personal thoughts and opinions. I am not a doctor. I am choosing to share the decision I have made for my child, and I know this is a touchy subject (especially with the green/organic/sustainable living crowd!), so I am going to just say right now that I will not tolerate hateful or inflammatory comments on this site. If you post something that I deem offensive, hateful, or inflammatory, your comment will be deleted. Period.
Recently, a few green-minded bloggers chose to “come out” about the fact that they vaccinate their children. I also vaccinate my daughter (and I think you should vaccinate your kids, too), and after watching these bloggers get completely railroaded for their supposedly anti-green choice—as well as being fed up with random people I don’t know lecturing me about the “dangers” of vaccination as I’m going about my day while minding my own business—I’ve decided to write this post as a show of support.
Here are a few reasons why I choose to vaccinate my daughter:
- I don’t think it’s smart to discard great scientific and medical advancements. I wouldn’t be alive were it not for penicillin, because my grandfather wouldn’t have lived into young adulthood and beyond had he not gotten an antibiotic when his appendix burst at 18. It was the first dose of penicillin the doctor in his rural community had ever administered! Immunizations save lives, too. Children can die of pertussis, measles…even the flu. Even now I have family members with serious health conditions who have, within the past year, benefited from new advancements in medicine. I also think conventional and alternative medicine are even more powerful when they work hand in hand. I’m a firm believer in integrative medicine, and I have personally received treatments from chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, etc.
- I believe in making educated decisions. Which means that even though I don’t believe in disregarding the amazing advancements in medicine that continue to happen every day, I do think it’s also important to be aware of the ways in which chemistry has been exploited with negative results (hence the very existence of this blog). And sometimes, it’s impossible to make an educated decision without the help of experts. I’m not a scientist or a doctor. But I am capable of asking questions and thinking critically.
- I trust my pediatrician to have my child’s best interest at heart. This is not blind trust; just as with every parenting decision, I did not choose my pediatrician without plenty of research, interviews, and referrals, and I’m happy that I’ve found a doctor I trust. I have fired doctors in the past and I’m sure I will in the future, but at a certain point I have to have faith in my doctor’s ability to help keep my family healthy. Otherwise, why go to a doctor at all? That doesn’t mean I don’t ask lots of questions (always!) and do some research on my own, or that I don’t sometimes disagree with my doctors.
- The benefits outweigh the risks. Every medical treatment carries some risk, but the benefits here outweigh the risks. I would never forgive myself if my child were to contract a disease that had virtually been eradicated from the modern world. These immunizations protect against diseases and illnesses that can kill a a child. Kill. A. Child! Herd immunity is a real thing.
- Finally, a biggie: when you choose to not vaccinate your child, you are putting my child at risk, too. Unfortunately, vaccinations are not 100% effective. And as a parent of a child who’s not yet four months old, her vaccinations are not complete yet—she’s not even fully inoculated against these serious, potentially life-threatening diseases. So the more people who are not vaccinated, the more outbreaks, however small, we have of these diseases that had been very well contained in the past, the bigger the chance that my daughter will come into contact with them before she’s vaccinated and after. It’s like walking through someone else’s secondhand cigarette smoke. It’s unavoidable in many instances, and it’s not good for my health or my daughter’s.
There are more reasons, of course, but I’ve already written a novel here. If you’d like to read more, here are some additional sites to check out:
Dooce on Vaccinations (a post that rings true for me in many ways)
Paige Wolf’s post about vaccinations, via the Spit That Out! blog.
Why do you choose (or choose not) to vaccinate your child? I welcome a healthy discussion. A reminder: keep it civil, please. —Aleigh