Every new parent needs to make an important decision fairly early on: Should I vaccinate my baby? The conversation on whether to vaccinate or not is controversial and overwhelming. This post will not tell you what to do but rather will help you make the decision.
There’s a lot of information out there on the topic of vaccinations, much of which is conflicting. Finding “correct” information is truly a daunting task.
In fact, if you’ve done any research there are two very separate and distinct camps: the pro-vaccine camp and the anti-vaccine camp. It is hard to find neutral and unbiased information on the subject.
So how do you go about making an informed decision that is right for your children and family? How do you decide whether to vaccinate or not?
Despite what some people say, there is no right or wrong answer. This is about finding the correct coarse of action for your family. Understand that regardless of the decision to vaccinate or not, every parent shares the same goal.
We all want to ensure that our children are safe and healthy. We are allowed to disagree on the approach.
I’m going to share with you 5 questions that you need to ask yourself before making a decision.
1. Do you Want to Know the Truth?
For some, it’s easier just to go along with what the doctor tells you to do, what is widely accepted by most parents, and you “should do”. Some parents can’t be bothered to look into the topic of vaccinations and would prefer to trust that what everyone else is doing is the correct course of action for their family.
This isn’t a criticism.
The more you read on the topic of vaccinations the scarier it is, regardless of which side of the debate you are on. The difference of opinions is vast. It will fill your head with doubt. It will make you suspicious and uncertain as to what to believe.
You may never find the “truth” and therefore won’t ever find a clear path to take. Are you ready for that level of uncertainty? Are you ready for that level of confusion in the mist of an important decision for your child? Or would it be easier to simply ignore the debate and do what is expected?
2. Have you done your Research?
Read and watch everything. Read official government documentation, books, online articles, scientific studies. Watch documentaries.
Understand that everything is biased. It is extremely difficult to find a neutral article on the topic of vaccines. Even if you do, you may not even notice because of everything else out there.
Research each individual vaccine. Research the manufacturers of each vaccine. Did you know the Rotavirus vaccine differs in ingredients (and therefore side effects) depending on the manufacturer? I didn’t before starting my research. This is the case for every vaccine.
To add to the confusion, vaccines are constantly being updated and improved. Just because the MMR vaccine has been around since the 1980’s doesn’t mean it contains the same ingredients, same formula, and same side effects.
Ask your doctor which brands they use. Ask for specific details about the make-up of the vaccine. See if there’s any research on that particular brand or recipe.
Bottom line: do your homework.
3. Is the Risk Worth the Reward?
This question can be applied to either side of the argument. Is the risk of the vaccine and possible side effects worth the reward of being potentially immune to the disease?
Is the risk of potentially contracting the disease worth the reward of not exposing your child to the possible harmful side effects of the vaccine?
Which is more risky: the vaccine or the disease?
What are the chances of your child actually contracting the disease? This is based on where you live in the world and also what your family is exposed to. Some vaccines are made to protect others, not the individual getting vaccinated. The disease may be more prevalent in teens and adults but almost not risk to babies. The vaccine may wear off by the time the child is actually exposed to the disease.
Remember to consider possible travel plans where the risk of contracting certain diseases is greater.
4. Do you have to be Anti-Vaccine or Pro-Vaccine? Is there Any Middle Ground?
For the most part, the arguments are polar opposites to the extreme. You are either pro-vaccines or anti-vaccines. If you question the concept of vaccines then you are usually lumped into the anti-vaccine category.
However, there may be very good reasons to get some vaccines and not others. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing.
You can also elect to delay the vaccinations. There’s is nothing forcing you to follow the schedule set by the government and health care industry.
Determine the best approach based on your research.
5. Are you Prepared to Deal with Criticism and to Jump Through Hoops?
If you elect not to vaccinate, you will be criticized. Other parents will have strong reactions to your decision. Your close friends may even decide that their children shouldn’t be exposed to yours. This is irrational behavior – after all, if their child is immunized aren’t they protected from any diseases your child is surely carrying?
Even though it defies common sense this is reality. The topic of “to vaccinate or not” is a highly charged, emotional issue. In fact, most people don’t even want to talk about it.
They don’t want to weigh the pros and cons. There are only a few people in my experience that can have opposing views and discuss the matter in a calm, respectful, and rational way.
On top of that, enrollment in childcare and school will be more complicated. There will be additional forms to sign, signatures required by a commissioner of oaths which includes added costs.
You will have to stay on top of the laws and regulations. The widely advertised requirement to have complete and updated immunizations to enter school is not true in most areas. There are exemptions. However, the schools may tell you there aren’t and your child may be threatened with suspension.
You will have to ensure you are well-informed and prepared for this type of on-going battle.
I hope these questions help you decide what’s best for your family. There is no right answer in the general sense but there is a right answer for your family. I encourage you to make an informed decision and to trust your instincts above all else.