Sunday, 1 February 2015

Vaccines. Why We Couldn't Do What Was Best For Our Family.

Vaccines. Here we go.

I didn't think I was going to write this post, and in fact fought the urge quite a few times. I felt a little intimidated by the topic and the task of gathering all the right resources and links was daunting. Instead of providing link after link of questionable resources, I'm just going to call this my opinion.

Unless you live under a rock it's hard not to hear about the vaccine debate. I became interested in it long before we got pregnant, but it wasn't until I saw those two little lines that I started taking it seriously. I was unsatisfied with the somewhat apathetic answers I was hearing from the pro-vax side, and felt myself leaning more towards not vaccinating. It seemed to me that the anti-vax side aligned more with my philosophy of overall health. I don't want to make choices because that is just what you do, I want to know it is the healthiest and best choice for me. While I am certainly not against traditional medicine I definitely lean more towards natural options. It seemed to me that I was finding more like-minded people in the anti-vax camp.

As like-minded as the anti-vas choice seemed, I took the decision very seriously. It's fine for me to make all the hippy no-meds choices as I want for myself, but we were talking about a tiny helpless growing baby inside of me. I felt the weight of the responsibility to this little one I hadn't even met yet, and wanted to honour that responsibility with as much education as I could. I wanted to learn as much as possible and became increasingly more and more frustrated with the Internet. I read story upon story and did my best to find fact based research on both sides. I also read The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears which I found quite helpful for it's unbiased approach to providing facts.

Through all this my belly was getting bigger and time was running out. We needed to make a decision! In my opinion, I could see both sides of the debate quite clearly: 

The pro-vax side wants everyone to vaccinate because there are, absolutely cases where a disease such as measles or chicken pox have had very serious side effects that can cause serious life long health complications or even death, especially in people with compromised immune systems. Also, there is a huge push for the sake of herd immunity. If we all stop vaccinating the consequences will be felt by those with weak immune systems. So, while the measles may not scare you or me, a parent of a 5 year old cancer patient feels quite differently. 

The anti-vax side is more "do what's right for you" (which seems to appeal to a lot of people) but most are also motivated by fear. There are absolutely cases out there of "vaccine injury" where a vaccine has cause serious side effects that have life long complications or even death. No, I am not talking about autism. Very few anti-vaxers are singing that song anymore and most of them distance themselves fully from that whole Jenny McCarthy silliness. There is also a lot of evidence of the possibility of serious allergic reactions to ingredients in vaccines. Some don't see the risk as worth it. Then there are the parents that simply don't want to introduce a load of chemicals into their child's tiny little body. 

So, where do you go from there? When you step back and see both arguments as compelling? Well you certainly can't listen to whomever is loudest, because both sides can spend all day everyday telling you exactly why they are right and making the other side sound like complete idiots. Can I just say, I'm a little sick of the "let's make the other side feel stupid" tactic? It's nothing short of rude to attack another person's convictions by attempting to question their intelligence. Both sides seem to think the other side is uneducated, but I've found that this is untrue. In my opinion there is truth to both sides. There are risks to both sides. And in my opinion it seemed as though both sides of the coin had similar likelihood of happening - our child could just as easily have an allergic reaction to a vaccine as they could contract measles and become blind or worse.

So again, where does that leave us? 

Well, we happen to know a little girl who had cancer less than two years ago, and truthfully, when people say "Do what is best for you and your family" I just can't help but see her sweet little face when she was undergoing chemo and wonder how her parents feel about that. This may be a strong statement, but I actually feel that as a Christian, I could not make the decision to not vaccinate. As followers of Jesus we are not called to look out for ourselves only, or even first. It's a little uncomfortable to say that I would put someone else before my own child, but I don't even see it that way. I do believe that vaccines are our best defence against outbreaks. I don't believe that the formaldehyde in a vaccine is going to harm my son. I know there are articles out there that talk about how ineffective vaccines are and how unthreatening these diseases are. I know. Quite frankly, if Elliott got the chicken pox I wouldn't be too upset about it. I see the value in life long immunity to a disease. All I am saying is that is that when the risks seem to be somewhat equal, the decision became more about others than about my own family. And when it comes to my own family, we want to represent Jesus well. 

So there you have it. I see both sides. I don't think either side is necessarily "wrong" because I believe they both have some truth on their side. We are a vaccinating family. We feel as though that is right for more than just us.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. I am definitely a pro-vaxxer. And it is very difficult for me to understand why you would not vaccinate your child. However, I believe that a mother has the ability to innately know what will be best for her child. I plan on vaccinating my children (once I decided to have them) but I've told my husband over and over (since he comes from a family anti-vax) that I will pray about it and use my motherly intuition to figure out what will be best for our child. My husband had a cousin that supposedly died from vaccination.

    I respect your side, and I'm happy to see that you respect mine. It's the people (like my Mother in-law) who don't do their research, and just proclaim that the government is trying to control the general public, that makes me crazy mad.