When my daughter was born in July of 2010, San Diego was smack dab in the middle of a whooping cough, or if you want to get technical Pertussis , outbreak and a handful of newborn babies had died. I can remember Harper’s pediatrician bent over her little clear plastic bassinet, carefully unswaddling her to listen to her heart, tucking her back into her standard issue blue and pink striped blanket and turning to me, asking if I had received a booster shot to bolster my immunity. Apparently, adult caregivers are often unknowing carriers. I could tell she was ready to defend her position and when I told her the nurse practitioner had already come in and showed her the bandaid on my upper arm, she seems surprised.
Vaccines have been a hot topic for at least the last 5 years but recently, the topic has become national news. IFLScience.com recently reported some schools in LA have a vaccination rate that is on par with war torn countries in Africa such as the Sudan where medical attention is scarce. There is a good bet that statistics like that, along with ongoing pertussis outbreak and the Disneyland measles epidemic were catalysts for the new California vaccine law that’s been working it’s way through the state’s legislature for the past few months. Fueled by a now debunked study from the 1990’s linking the MMR vaccine to autism and a generation of people who don’t remember a world overrun by polio, the anti-vaccination movement has obviously picked up steam.
Since birth, Harper has been on a pretty standard vaccine schedule and is up to date and ready to start kindergarten in two days without any attempt at an exemption. We vaccinate for myriad of reasons.
My child is part of a greater whole. She is an ever increasing and active part of society. Soon she will be going to a public school with 600 other children . She frequents stores where she makes a goal of touching every single shiny, sparkly and/or colorful thing in a 50 foot radius. She goes to swim class and dance class every week. We take her on planes, trains, and in automobiles to places all over the world. She is a patron of the city and county library systems. We even take her to Disneyland. As parents, my husband and I feel it is necessary to act in the best interest of the world we live in and the people lucky enough to come into contact with all of us. Not spreading dangerous communicable diseases is part of that mantra. Participating in herd or community immunity allows us to decrease the likelihood of an epidemic in our community.
For most healthy people, vaccines are relatively safe; Extreme adverse reactions from vaccinations are very rare. But some people can’t be vaccinated for actual medical reasons. My brother is a prime example. He had leukemia three times as a kid and because of his suppressed immune system he could not receive any vaccinations from the time he was seven until he started college. For a child with a disease like cancer, common colds and losing teeth and scraped knees become complicated and at times potentially fatal situations. Diseases that are vaccinated against are even more dangerous.
Perhaps this one goes without saying but I don’t want her to end up maimed or killed by an easily preventable disease. My mom guilt is already heavy enough without having to watch Harper suffer through life in the iron lung. I trust Harp’s pediatrician, the one who has kindly answered every frenzied email and voicemail I’ve ever left. I trust science in it’s monotonous repeatability and I trust history enough to know that we should embrace medical innovation over small pox.
For those with like minded approaches to childhood vaccinations, Wire & Honey has graciously offered to host a giveaway featuring one of their super cute Vaccines Save, Bro! t-shirts. The winner will receive one of these shirts in the color and size of their choice. Size and color choices are subject to availablity.