Recently, the issue of vaccination has been coming up frequently among many parents I know. This decision, alongside a multitude of others, tends to cause all kinds of emotional and mental agony as each of these good people wrestles with the question of how to do right by their children. With all the conflicting information out there these days, this has come to be a really, really tough decision for any parent to make, and most of us have heard our share of horror stories – on both sides of the issue.
As for me, I chose not to vaccinate after doing a ton of research when my oldest was born, and weighing in on the risks of both options. Both my girls were raised on a strict diet of homoeopathic medicine, herbal remedies, body work, energy work, and time spent educating and empowering them to care for their own bodies, minds and spirits. They are now 17 and 23.
I can count on one hand, the number of times I have had to take either of them to see a doctor. Sure, they got sick now and then – sometimes even really sick, but in comparison to their friends, they always missed WAY more illnesses than they caught. As they got older, and their immune systems grew smarter & stronger – they got sick less and less frequently. Today – I would be hard pressed to remember the last time someone in our household was really ill. Whether this is a direct result of not vaccinating, or a fortunate combination of other life choices and circumstances – I may never really know.
A few years ago, my youngest started doing some occasional, overseas travelling. Wherever she goes – we do extensive research on the recommended vaccines, as well as what the current advisories are (if any) for the region she is travelling to. If the risk is significantly greater than what she would encounter at home, and the consequences of contracting a particular illness severe enough – she will opt for specific vaccines as a preventative measure. So far, she has opted for two – one each, on two different trips. The bonus is – as a young adult, she is further educated and empowered in the process of making this decision for herself, with support from a parent she trusts.
Over the years, the most challenging part of choosing not to vaccinate has been dealing with backlash, pressure, and even outright verbal abuse from teachers, principals, nurses, doctors, and other parents. (you would not believe some of the things I’ve been called!) Not everyone is an ass about it – but there is enough nastiness out there that if you aren’t absolutely certain of your decision – you could spend an awful lot of time battling their voices in your head, and questioning your choice. It’s never easy going against the status quo.
Ultimately, we are all trying to do what is in the best interests of our children. If vaccinating is going to let you sleep at night, then go for it. Millions of people do, and most of their kids survive. Ditto for not vaccinating.
Either way, do your research – on BOTH sides of the equation, and make sure you study the facts, not just the opinions.
And remember… be kind to one another. There are no absolutes in parenting – or in anything else for that matter. Whether we vaccinate or not, every one of us loves our children, and every one of us is doing our best to make the right decisions for our kids, using the tools and information we have available at the time.