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Vaccination Nation

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I live in one of the most heavily vaccinated countries in the world.  While receiving vaccinations is a common experience that many of us share, it is amazing how much people don’t talk about it.  What is even more amazing is how little people actually know about what they are putting in their bodies and the bodies of their children.  Most expectant parents put more thought and research into car seats and cribs then they do into the injections their baby will be given.  Sounds harsh I know, but the majority of parents find the topic scary, overwhelming and controversial.  Many err on the “side of caution” or simply listen to what their health care provider says (and good luck finding a doctor who doesn’t follow the Publicly Funded Vaccination Schedule).  If you do choose to become educated in this arena it is an extremely mind-boggling experience with contradicting facts, medical jargon and a serious lack of research.  It’s no wonder that parents don’t talk about it!

When I started reading up on vaccinations I felt as if I had opened Pandora’s Box.  More than once the thought crossed my mind that perhaps burying my head in the sand would have been easier.  Easier yes, but not more responsible.  As a soon-to-be parent, isn’t it my responsibility to make the best choice for my child and my family?

You Have a Choice

To a person who is uneducated about vaccinations, it may seem like you don’t really have a choice.  I have lost count of the number of parents who have said “but your child won’t be able to go to school!” Seriously people?  Again, this may sound harsh, but please realise that the Canadian Constitution protects this right and states that no one can be forcibly vaccinated in this country.  Be proud that you live in a place that allows you to make those choices for yourself and your family.  Not everyone is so lucky.

Educate Yourself

I want to clearly state that this blog is not meant to sway you in one direction or another.  I am not anti or pro vaccination.  I am pro education.  Just as I hope that the people in my life will respect the decisions that my husband and I will make about our child, I too respect other parents’ choices.  It’s not my place to stick my nose in where it doesn’t belong.  However, if I can help someone make a more educated decision, then I will do just that.

The key to making the right decision about vaccinations is knowledge.  While the topic can be overwhelming, it is important to realise that there are potential consequences to your choices, regardless of what those may be.  Also be aware that a small amount of knowledge can be dangerous too.  Believing that your child will die of a deadly disease if you don’t vaccinate because a mom at your yoga class told you this, is not education!  Where did yoga mom learn this? Did she do any research?  On the other hand, choosing not to vaccinate your child because your vegan friend didn’t isn’t a good reason either.  Get the facts (actual facts) and then make the best choice for you and your family.

Marching to the Beat of Your Own Drum

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Blindly following the masses is no way to live.  That being said, walking a path that is different than most is no picnic either.  If you choose to alter the vaccination schedule (delaying, selectively or opting out of vaccinations entirely), your decisions will be under a microscope.  Some will applaud you for educating yourself and standing up for your constitutional right to make a choice.  Others will call you a bad parent and accuse you of putting their children at risk.  Either way, you will be amongst the minority.  At some point you will be asked to defend your decision.  “How could you do something so risky?  Don’t you love your child?”  This is a hard place to be if you are uncertain or uneducated about your decisions.  How do you defend something that you know little about it?

Resources

Here are some of the resources I’m using in my quest to make the right vaccination decision for my child.  Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in your fact finding mission.  There are other parents out there reading the same books and going to the same websites who are probably just as confused as you are.  Don’t get discouraged. Keep reading and keep talking about it.  In the end you will make the right choice for your family.

Books

The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child (Robert W. Sears M.D.)

  • Pro: Well researched and very easy to read for people who have little to no scientific background.
  • Con: His opinions sneak in and he often suggests vaccinating “for your country” which leads you to believe that all vaccinations are necessary.
  • Long and short of it: Use this book for its accurate information and research, but make the choice yourself!

Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide: How to Make Safe, Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives (Aviva Romm M.D.)

  • Pro: Extremely well researched and provides you will all the information and tools you need including alternative treatments (herbs, homeopathy etc.) if you choose not to vaccinate.
  • Con: Some of the information is a little scientifically heavy (especially the immune system section) and may be difficult for some to follow if they don’t remember grade 12 biology.
  • Long and short of it:  Don’t get overwhelmed and discouraged by the medical jargon because most of that information isn’t vital to making a choice!

Websites

Vaccination Risk Awareness Network – http://vran.org/

National Vaccine Information Center – http://www.nvic.org/

Vitality Magazine