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Why I Vaccinated My Son

There’s a growing minority of parents who are not vaccinating their children. I’m the kind of mom who buys organic apples and rBST-free milk, cloth diapers and doesn’t spray air-freshener all around my home. So perhaps, if I’m avoiding synthetic chemicals, then maybe I would think twice about vaccinating my child too?

Actually, my son received all his vaccines to the AAP recommended schedule. I’ve heard about autism – well, how could you have not heard? – and the alleged links to vaccines. The first doctor to propose a link between autism and the combined MMR vaccine is under investigation by the General Medical Council, the governing board of doctors in the UK, and facing a professional misconduct charge for the methods used in his original study that claimed a link between the shot and autism. The study is the only one that has ever claimed a link between MMR and autism, but has stuck in the public consciousness despite numerous studies and research that doesn’t show a link.

I know that vaccines, like just about everything else, can have side effects. I’ve heard terribly sad stories from parents of children who did suffer serious and even fatal reactions to vaccines. Is there anything worse than to loose your child to something that is supposed to keep them healthy?

For my son, I believe the risk of side effects is outweighed by the risk of contracting one of the diseases the vaccines are designed to prevent.

I’ve been to four continents and I’m one of the less well-traveled members of my family. I live in a city with immigrants from around the world so even if my son doesn’t grow up with the wanderlust that’s likely to be in his genes, then even at home, and when he goes to school, he’s going to meet people who have recently been to places where vaccine-preventable diseases are still a serious health threat.

I also think that the anti-vaccine groups have lost perspective of how serious the diseases vaccines prevent actually are. Because the last generation were vaccinated, moms and dads today often don’t have any experience of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Talk to your grandparents, and maybe your mom or dad too, and they will probably remember children from their neighborhood or school who died from a disease that’s not an issue in the US today because of vaccines. My mom nearly died as an infant from vaccine-preventable diseases. My dad remembers a childhood friend crippled by polio. My grandparents remember children who died from diphtheria, an often-fatal disease that has all but been eradicated in the US today because of vaccinations. And they are not unusual. Talk to anyone over 50 and you’ll probably hear similar stories.

Diphtheria, polio, and many other diseases we vaccinate against, are still prevalent in other parts of the world and how do I know when my son might come in contact with someone carrying the disease?

So my son is vaccinated. I hated holding him in the doctors office for the injections, and cried with him when he wailed after the shots, and cried again over his poor sore legs after the shots. But I’m glad I did have him vaccinated, and I believe that I made the best choice for him.


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