Is there a topic more polarizing among parents than vaccinations? I learned many years ago how difficult it is for those who distrust the safety of vaccines to change their minds. I attended a talk by a pediatrician who is also a noted vaccine researcher and developer. He is renowned for his research on infectious disease. When he talked about parents who don't vaccinate, he shared a fact that blew my mind: His own daughter wasn't immunizing her children. What other proof do you need that once a parent has made up his or her mind, it's pretty much over?
Still, I have hopes that this essay from Amy Parker, a mom who grew up unvaccinated, will tip the scales for moms and dads who are on the fence about whether to vaccinate their child. As she explains, she was raised by a parents who emphasized a healthy diet (including going local and organic, back in the 1970s) and an active lifestyle. She also contracted measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, and chickenpox, among other diseases. She ended up being on antibiotics so often that she developed a resistance to them. Her two children, who have also been raised on healthy foods and are vaccinated, have rarely been ill. She makes two points in particular that I hope resonate with parents:
"If you think your child's immune system is strong enough to fight off vaccine-preventable diseases, then it's strong enough to fight off the tiny amounts of dead or weakened pathogens present in any of the vaccines."
"Those of you who have avoided childhood illnesses without vaccines are lucky. You couldn't do it without us pro-vaxxers. Once the vaccination rates begin dropping, the less herd immunity will be able to protect your children. The more people you convert to your anti-vax stance, the quicker that luck will run out."
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Image: Doctor giving a child an intramuscular injection via Shutterstock.