Disneyland, the happiest place in the world, or so we thought. Oddly enough, it wasn’t Maleficent or Pirates of the Caribbean that took over Disneyland; it was of all things, measles. Measles are a thing of the past right? Wrong! When I was a young mother, I didn’t give two thoughts about vaccinating my kids because that is just what you did and vaccinations didn’t seem to pose a threat. In fact, we all thought we were doing what was right by having our children vaccinated and safeguarded from dreaded diseases like measles and mumps. Then suddenly reports came out about how vaccinations could cause learning disabilities and how there were a growing number of children with Autism, which could potentially be related to vaccinations. Yikes!
As a mentor for children with learning disabilities and a grandmother, I was instantly worried and became wrapped up in the scare that vaccinations could be harmful to children. Was this why I was seeing a growing number of children coming to my center with some of these issues? Did I have it all wrong as a mother when I was raising my own children?
With all the news reports and bloggers joining the vaccination discussion, every mom in America started questioning whether or not they should have their child vaccinated at birth or even at all. What’s the point? Are they really protecting my child? What are the side affects? After all, many of these diseases no longer seemed to pose a threat and no parent wants their child to struggle through life with a learning challenge.
Then in another turn of events, researchers, doctors, and medical professionals came out with science and studies that showed vaccinations are not related to learning disabilities and don’t threaten the livelihood of our children.
So who is right and who is wrong? This topic has sparked a lot of controversy, but the answers don’t always seem to be clear. Now, with the recent outbreaks of measles at Disneyland (52 cases), parents are frustrated and upset on the opposite side of the spectrum. The majority of those infected did not have vaccinations for the illness, while a small number still got sick despite having had the vaccine.
Parents are now saying their children can’t go to school because others aren’t vaccinated and many government officials are even drafting legislation to enforce laws that children can’t attend school unless they are vaccinated. Do we have a choice as parents? Should we have a choice?
While much of this is still highly debated, the one thing I can honestly say is that as concerned parents, we all have good intentions and want to do what is right for our children. As a mentor for children who struggle with learning challenges, I still do not have a cookie cutter answer to vaccinations because, while I feel they are important, I am still concerned with the overwhelming numbers of children I see who need help, and many of their issues stem from birth.
From my viewpoint, there are several steps I believe every parent should take when making the decision about whether or not to vaccinate their child. Parents can still make informed decisions to help their children stay as healthy as possible with the tools and resources available.
Here are my thoughts:
Talk with your Pediatrician: Talk with your pediatrician before and after birth about all the options available when it comes to vaccines and what your concerns are for your child. No matter if it is your first child or your fourth, vaccinations will play a role as your child grows up so advice from a medical professional is valuable and important. Remember, don’t be shy! This is your child we are talking about here. If there is something that is bothering you and if you have concerns, speak up. I would even ask for medical studies and journals you could review. As a parent it can be overwhelming trying to know what vaccinations you feel your child needs, and knowing exactly what they are getting vaccinated for. That is why your pediatrician should be available to help and to answer your questions. For an online resource, Dr. Bob Sears, an American Pediatrician, gives a slight outline to many of the concerns that parents have with a brand new child, especially for new parents. He points out the risks of vaccines, but also the risks presented when a child does not get vaccinated.
Set a Schedule: Set a vaccination schedule that you, your partner, and doctor feel comfortable with and can all agree on before and after birth. The first year of a child’s life is a busy one, especially when it comes to vaccinations; they seem to pile up quickly. As a parent it can be frightening, especially when you don’t know what affect the vaccines will have on your child. Talk with your pediatrician and set a schedule that is comfortable for you. If you want to space out the vaccinations, discuss what options are available. It is your child, and you as a parent have the right do to what you feel is best. If you don’t want your child vaccinated due to medical reasons, religious belief, or you are worried about the safety of vaccinations, make sure your doctor is aware and understands your point of view. The schedule can be adjusted based on an agreement between you and your doctor.
Consider the Health of Others: Don’t only consider the health of your child, but the health of others as well when you are making a decision. As a parent, it is ultimately up to you on whether or not your child gets vaccinated, but you must also consider the health of others and how you would feel if other children posed a threat to your child’s health. There are other children who may not have a strong enough immune system to fight off sicknesses. An example being children with cancer, many of them cannot be vaccinated because their immune system is already fighting something else. If your child were to get sick, they could pass it easily to another child (maybe a cancer patient), and that patient would have no way of fighting off that illness. Don’t only think about your child think about others. We are all in this together.
Prevent Learning Disabilities: There has been discussion over the years on whether or not vaccines cause autism. The truth is, there is not yet scientific evidence that shows a direct link with autism and vaccines. Many thought the preservative thimerosal was the cause of autism, which has since been disproved. Although there is currently no evidence to say vaccines cause autism, there is still room for concern. A child may have a severe allergic reaction that can in some way harm the child. Talk to your pediatrician about not only a healthy birth, but also for a healthy life as well.
Talk to your Child as they get Older: If you are a parent that has chosen not to vaccinate your children for any reason, talk to them about your decision as they get older. Let them know why you made the decision and give them an opportunity to choose as an adult if they want to be vaccinated or not. Help them understand the advantages and disadvantages of vaccines so they can decide for themselves.
Vaccinations are a scary thing; shots in general are frightening not only for children, but also for adults. There are pros and cons, and we all want the best for our children. Again, if you have any questions, talk to your pediatrician or a medical professional you trust, that’s what they are paid to do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs