First of all, let me say that I vaccinated my kids, so I don’t want to hear anything from the anti-vaccination backlash!
But when I saw people I knew who didn’t have kids commenting on the intelligence level of those who chose not to vaccinate their kids, I felt compelled to write something.
The infamous study that linked vaccinations to possible cases in Autism came out in 1998. It was not debunked officially until 2010. That’s 12 years in there where informed parents could have done research which led them to suppose there was a reason to question the huge mandate of vaccinations that parents are required to give their kids for school. Some of these vaccinations made perfect sense to me. I had no problem immunizing my kids against Tuberculosis, Measles, Whooping Cough among others. There were others about which I was more suspicious. Did I, who lived in a low population density area, really need to immunize against Hepatitis? Hib? Ear Infections? Several times each? Let the record show that I had a rather high deductible, and all of these vaccinations cost money, which is happily received by the same pharmaceutical companies that many people rail against.
My child had autistic tendencies, and later an autism diagnosis. You had better believe I vaccinated that child and younger children with a great deal of hesitancy and doubt about whether I was doing the right thing.
In 2006 when I vaccinated my youngest for the first time, a few hours later she started violently turning her head back and forth several times an hour. She became physically and mentally irritated for several days. You had better believe that I thought more than twice about continuing vaccinations after that.
In the end, as my sister eloquently stated, I felt more comfortable vaccinating than not vaccinating, and in the end, I am comfortable and happy with the choice that I made. But quite honestly, I could have just as easily made the more difficult choice not to vaccinate.
Life is a series of decisions that weigh one’s own needs against the needs of society. Parenting is the same, weighing the needs of the child with the needs of the family with the needs of society. Sometimes we make the right decisions and sometimes we don’t. But demonizing parents as misinformed idiots for choosing not to vaccinate does nothing to better the situation. It is easy to assume that we understand people’s motives, and then, when we don’t approve of their actions, hold ourselves in the superior position. It’s more challenging to admit that each of us is vulnerable to making decisions out of fear and self-interest. I think that admitting this is the first step toward reacting out of compassion instead of perpetuating the same fearful and defensive responses.
Namaste means the best part of us honors the best within everyone. Let’s start from a place of believing that whatever decisions people made were done for a reason. We might be wrong some of the time, but I believe that starting from that place will lead to a more understanding dialogue, less definsiveness and better results.