Parenting is tough. There are no guarantees that you have made the right decision. And there is only one guarantee, and that is you will be judged.
One of the most hotly contested parenting choices is whether or not you should vaccinate your child. Before Lucas was born I went on a quest for peer reviewed studies that were not sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. I was not able to find any. I was actually able to find very little quality data about vaccination. In fact, the entire debate about vaccination comes down to a huge collection of anecdotal accounts on both side. With both pro and anti-vaxxers saying “If you do this (vaccinate/ don’t vaccinate) your child will either be terribly scarred or die a horrible death.”
The truth is that vaccines injuries do occur. It is also true that many lives are saved by vaccines. It comes down to deciding what decision that you can live with. For me, after spending hours looking for quality data and not being able to find it. (Don’t get me wrong anecdotal data is valuable too, but it was not what I was looking for).
When we were discussing vaccination, Riaan eventually turned to me and said that I had done the research, and he would go along with my decision. So, no pressure there. I actually talked to him about being okay with the rare (but not unheard of) vaccination injury and helping me forgive myself if that occurred.
Lucas is now ten months old and he has had all of the recommended vaccinations to date (In South Africa, on the current government schedule the 9 month vaccination is for straight measles not the combination MMR. It is the MMR that I am unlikely to allow to be administered to Lucas before he enters puberty. Not because of the claims that it is linked to autism but because I am unconvinced about its efficacy.)
Lucas did have an unpleasant reaction to the pneumococcal vaccine which led me to decide to have that vaccine administered separately from any others in the future. Due to a discrepancy on the vaccine card it turned out that the pneumococcal vaccine is administered at nine months which I did not realize, so Lucas did actually get it in conjunction with his measles vaccine. A simple misunderstanding for which the nursing sister was most apologetic, and I got the resolution that I wanted which was to ensure that this misunderstanding did not occur again.
At the end for me it came down to the fact that I could live with the consequences of a vaccination injury but I could not live with the consequences of a complication of to a vaccine preventable disease. So I guess for me it came down to that.
I just watched an absolutely fascinating YouTube video describing some of the psychological phenomena at play when it comes to deciding whether or not to vaccinating your children.
While watching it I did wonder whether my decision to vaccinate was influenced by the fact that one of my primary (elementary) school teachers had lost the use of her arm to polio as a child.
The bottom line was I came to the conclusion that I could live with the consequences of a vaccine injury (a relatively small statistical risk) but that I could not live with the consequences of a complication from a vaccine preventable disease.
Love and parenting choices,