I value my pediatrician's advice, but I don't always do as he has suggested. I make informed decisions and to some extent, I also trust my instincts. My kids are vaccinated on a slightly modified schedule and there are seasonal vaccinations that we say no to. There are risks with every vaccine, just as there are risks with not getting vaccinated, which is why I believe parents should have the right to choose to vax their children or not.
Vaccinations shouldn't be forced upon us by doctors or the government -- it should be up to the parent. Philosophical exemptions should be allowed for every school, public and private.
I spoke with two moms who agree. Ginger Summerford Gorrell, a mom of three from North Carolina, shared, "I trust the schools to make the best educational choices for my child, from curriculum choices to quality teachers. Health care choices, however, are for me to make with my child's doctor."
New York mom of two Rebecca Wong said, "We should have the right -- the choice -- to sift through the available information and research on vaccines and decide which ones and on what schedule we -- together with our pediatrician -- feel comfortable vaccinating our children. Unfortunately, that ideal doesn't match our reality. There are some vaccines I feel no hesitation about giving to my kids (on a delayed schedule) while there are others I'd like to see more long term research on that doesn't come from the pharmaceutical company that manufactures and profits from it."
That research, and who it is funded by, puts far too many questions in parents' minds. How can we feel truly safe injecting our children's bodies with something when the safety of it -- the long term safety -- can be questioned. That is where our instinct kicks in -- that voice in our head that says it's okay to go ahead or that we should wait. I've waited to vaccinate when we were scheduled, even on our delay, when my child was sick, even if it was just a cold.
When it comes to school, all children despite if they are vaccinated or not, should be allowed in. We pay a lot of taxes for public school. And private schools are costly. Most likely a private school will have full disclosure on their policies and parents see if it's in line with their way of thinking so this isn't much an issue there. But it is for public schools. If a parent is that concerned that their child will be studying next to a kid who hasn't been vaccinated, then that parent should also consider never taking their child to the supermarket, the public parks, the library, or on any playdate without first seeing records of immunization. There are people all over this world who aren't vaccinated, not just in schools, not just children. Any time we step out the door, there is a chance we can catch something. But we can't live with that kind of paralyzing and overly cautious kind of fear. There are also some kids who have severe allergic reactions to eggs who cannot be vaccinated, so children like this -- under this thought -- shouldn't be allowed at school either. How could that be allowed? Should we start separating the vax from no-vax, giving them their own schools, and hope the two never play together? That's not right. We also can't force vaccinations.
We shouldn't fear no-vax kids. I don't want those nearly eradicated diseases to creep back and infect our society, but I also feel we should have a choice, and the choice each parent makes for their child should be respected. A parent who vaccinates also shouldn't be overly concerned about other children who aren't because they are already protected -- isn't that why they got the vaccine in the first place? Besides, it's not like non-vaccinated kids are walking around carrying every frightening disease out there. They aren't.
Our bodies. Our kids bodies. Should be our choice. And the government and schools should stick to what they know best.
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Image via Daniel Paquet/Flickr