11.12.2013

Quit scaring parents into submission and start thinking

So this is going to be a touchy spot for a lot of people. It doesn't matter if you're a vegan mother, an omnivore father or a who-knows-what-you-eat pediatrician; when it comes to children, we all want ultimately the same thing - for them to be safe, healthy, happy and a little better off than we are.

We don't want them to experience pain or sickness, so we do whatever we think it takes to keep those things from them. Sometimes this means monitoring how many fruits and veggies they're eating, sometimes it means giving them medicine.

Before I delve into this topic, let me reiterate this statement one more time: at the end of the day, we all want our children to be safe, healthy, happy and a little better off than we are.

As a parent who tends to take the road less traveled, I've gotten used to defending my stance on situations. Most times, I have a defense prepared before (and sometimes when) one is even needed. As much as our world wants to "embrace" different schools of thoughts, there are certain one's we're just not ready to accept.

Vaccinations are an incredibly hot topic right now. From fears that too many shots will lead to autism, to the idea that not vaccinating a child will result in them being afflicted with the black plague, polio and meningitis all at once, these shots are putting parents in a seriously stick-y (hey, I had to have a little fun) situation.

What's a parent to do in such a dangerous world? It seems sometimes like we're damned if we do, damned if we don't.

Do your research.

Get educated.

Ask questions.

And make an informed decision.

This is probably the best thing any parent can do for themselves, their sanity and most importantly, their children.

I'm not a doctor, nor is my husband, so we're not going to sit here and pretend we are. What I can do is tell you what we decided was best for our family and why. After hearing in a birthing class that in the last 30 years children have gone from receiving an average of 18 vaccines to almost 40 now, my husband and I decided to start asking questions.

We read as many sources as we could on vaccinations, from information provided by the Centers for Disease Control to off-beat books and materials written by pediatricians like Dr. Sears. And then, after we came to our own conclusion, we took that to our children's physician. With the help of our information and his education, we were able to agree upon a vaccination schedule for our children that addressed all of our concerns. Our children do not receive every vaccine, however; they do receive some.

The flu vaccination, is one we do not give to our children. It's not that I want Pearyn and Braeburn to contract influenza and be sick for weeks, it's just that we've weighed the pros and cons and we don't think it's necessary. Our doctor has provided us with the possible side effects from the vaccination, in addition to the complications they could face if they do get the flu this young, and as their parents we decided against it.

This bothers a lot of people we tell. They don't understand why we won't just give our children the flu vaccine, I mean, it's safe, right? Look how many people get it. Look how few people get reactions. Look at all the doctors telling us to get them, all the magazines saying we need them and all the news programs informing us of the deadly consequences if we don't.

Here's the thing. I'm not saying you shouldn't get your child vaccinated. What we chose to do for our family may not be the right thing for every other family. But I am saying it's what I believe is best for our family. An alternative, lighter vaccination schedule is what we believe will help our children be safe, healthy, happy and better off than us.

What I am saying, however; is that people need to stop scaring parents into submission. Take this month's Parents magazine for example. They have an article with common questions regarding the flu vaccination. While I appreciate the information this article provides (responses to things like 'will my kid get the flu FROM the vaccination?'), I don't appreciate the fact that it basically scares parents into getting the vaccination. I understand it's what the CDC wants from us, but my Parents magazine is going to start pressuring me too?

You might think I'm a cuckoo for launching into this debate. It's one vaccine, who cares! I guess it's the way the information is presented, WHO it's being presented by. I'm used to being bullied into the "norm" by large, government-run organizations, but once my magazines start scaring me I take it personally. Take for example Parents' response to the concern "my baby already gets too many shots." While doctors hear this from lots of parents, we need to know what "serious" risks we're creating for our children (ages 6 months to five) if we don't vaccinate. According to Parents' source, 20,000 kids ages five and younger are hospitalized with the flu every year, because of things like dehydration and pneumonia.

That's kind of serious. Who knew the flu bug could cause such a commotion?

If that's the case and we're going to start "protecting" our young children from things that could potentially lead to dire consequences, I propose we should stop eating, manufacturing and allowing the sale of chickens, cows, and reptiles such as turtles, lizards, and iguanas in the United States. According to the CDC, actually, verbatim:
" Every year, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States. Because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be thirty or more times greater. Salmonellosis is more common in the summer than winter. 
Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. The rate of diagnosed infections in children less than five years old is about five times higher than the rate in all other persons. Young children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised are the most likely to have severe infections. It is estimated that approximately 400 persons die each year with acute salmonellosis."
Too bad there's not a salmonella vaccine we can start pushing too. Unfortunately, as we learned from our own nearly two-month ordeal with salmonella poisoning and our two-year-old (at the time) daughter, it may start in chickens, cows and reptiles, but it's easily transferred to other foods and surfaces, like cantaloupe, for example. Did you know the contaminated cantaloupe outbreak of 2011 is the second deadliest food-borne illness in the U.S.?

After hearing those facts, are you going to suddenly stop buying cantaloupe? Probably not. If your doctor told you those facts would you? I don't know, you tell me.

I'm not saying you should live your life in fear that your child will get salmonella, but I'm also saying maybe we shouldn't be scared into giving them a vaccination if we're not really, on our own, 100-percent comfortable with it.

In fact, I'm not asking you to think like I do. I'm just asking you to THINK.

For yourselves.

And for your children.

Make decisions based on research, education and consultation, not FEAR.

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2 comments:

  1. After the whole salmonella thing you went through with your daughter it seems like youd want to vaccinate her from the flu so she doesnt go through all of that again though?

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    1. I guess our feeling is that we've made it through something that terrible. Why should we medicate our children (in a day and age when they're already getting double the amount of vaccinations we used to) on the off chance they *might* contract a flu bug?

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