I have been known to mention in our Bradley Method® childbirth classes that the best way for our students to blow up their social media pages is to mention one of these words: “vaccine” or “circumcision”.
True to form, I watched an alumni student’s feed blow up in a spectacular fashion last week. When I expressed sadness over the situation on my own page, and tried an attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor – wow! I had an implosion on my page. It was quite spectacular, really, in the history of my personal social media.
Quick recap to frame this post:
You may have seen the article(s) going around about a measles outbreak that seems to have originated from a contagious individual visiting Disneyland. A friend posted a link to one of those articles on her page. Then it was detonation time as people from both the pro-vaccination (“vax”) and anti-vaccination (no-vax”) camp chimed into the ensuing conversation.
A post I made expressing sadness over the name-calling and bemoaning that there are no easy answers elicited all kinds of new passionate responses, both on and off topic.
Names were called and feelings were hurt. Among those of us who know each other IRL, personal messages were exchanged to make sure that there were no lasting hard feelings.
I learned two things from the situation:
- I do not have the stomach or the thick skin required to take a stance on these issues on my business pages, or anything else, personal, really. I had pretty much accepted that I will never be a super-blogger because I am not willing to bleed for the sake of making a name for myself – this was the final nail in that coffin.
- The situation validated that I will continue to make an effort to examine conflicts from different perspectives, and to seek lessons from the situations that cross my path. It continues to be a wonderful way to step away from the emotion and see how I can grow.
I will not take sides on the vaccine debate, personally or professionally, and here is why:
- Both sides claim to have science on their side.
- Both sides have examples of sick and injured children.
- Both sides have room to play the “dead baby” card.
The statement, “If you are not willing to sacrifice your child, don’t ask someone else to sacrifice theirs,” holds true for both sides of the argument, doesn’t it? Indeed, we have heard from both sides of the argument…children who experienced life-threatening or lasting complications from the vaccines they received, and children who have been compromised by the decisions of those who choose not to vaccinate. There certainly are no easy answers from where I stand.
Here is what I can and do say about all parenting decisions: Take Responsibility. This is not just my position; it is one of the tenants of what we teach as Bradley™ instructors.
As you start your evaluation process, consider exposure. Examine your family’s exposure and re-evaluate it periodically. Where do you/ your partner work? Are you exposed to a population where there might be a concern that you will bring dangerous germs back to your children? How many people are you exposed to in your daily routines? The more people you are exposed to, the more chance your child has of possibly catching anything, whether there is a vaccination for it or not.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO VACCINATE:
- Read the package insert on the vaccine you are choosing to have your child injected with. Know the production process and the ingredients in the vaccine, i.e., if your child has an egg allergy, you may not want to vaccinate them with an inoculation that was cultured inside an egg. Also inform yourself of the possible side effects, so that if you see any, you can report them to the your doctor and the federal agency if your country has one (VAERS https://vaers.hhs.gov/index in the USA). Do not count on the information that is available on the Internet or via word of mouth from your friends. While there is a lot of information and you probably have very smart friends, only you can choose for your child. Read.
- Talk to your pediatrician. Ask them what the vaccination was intended to treat, if it has been effective, and how your child will be cared for if they do, indeed, contract the illness against which they have been vaccinated. Is it any different than if they were unvaccinated? Has the treatment progressed and improved over time?
- Do you know if your pediatrician accepts patients that opt for alternative vaccination schedules, or decline vaccines as a whole? Will someone coming to the office with an illness affect your ability to care for your child, or attend to work if you and/or your child are quarantined? If you are concerned about their answers, find a pediatrician who practices in line with your beliefs about vaccinations.
- If your child’s health is compromised due to prematurity, other illnesses, or birth defects, and you choose to vaccinate, do you care if your pediatrician treats patients who are not or are alternatively vaccinated? Again, if you are concerned about their answers, find a pediatrician who practices in line with your beliefs about vaccinations.
It is up to the parent of the vaccinated child to get the answers they need to know in order to make decisions for the care and treatment of their vaccinated child.
IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO VACCINATE
If you are not going to vaccinate, you also have parental responsibilities that go along with that choice.
- You have a responsibility to protect and build your child’s natural immune system. Things that may help: extended breastfeeding, a whole food diet that includes as much organic food as possible. For organic eating without breaking the bank, check out THIS article from WebMD or check out THIS blog post from the Food Babe that offers 75 tips on how to make organic eating realistic and cost effective. You may especially want to load up your child with breastmilk and/or food that is rich in Vitamin A (called the anti-infection vitamin) and Vitamin C (known to boost the immune system).
- It is up to you to make sure that your personal hygiene is impeccable. Good hand washing is the foundation for better health outcomes. Learn, practice, and teach your children how to *really* wash their hands. HERE is an info page I like from the CDC.
- If you suspect your child has a contagious illness for which there is a vaccination, and your pediatrician sees both vax and non-vax children, I beg you to make an appointment at the end of the day when you are not going to expose any other patients to those germs. If you have it in your heart, maybe even offer to have the space disinfected after you leave. Also have the courtesy to let the staff know that you suspect your child is experiencing symptoms of a particular disease. You are choosing to be okay with your child building up their natural immunity by experiencing illness and making a recovery. It doesn’t mean that everyone else wants to make the same choice by proxy. Be mindful that even if parents are going to vaccinate, some are cannot be administered until a child is 12+ months old. You could be exposing an infant whose consequences are *much different* than an older child experiencing the same disease.
- If your child’s health is compromised due to prematurity, other illnesses, or birth defects, and you choose not to vaccinate, are you doing everything you can to ensure your child’s exposure is limited during critical times like cold+flu season, and throughout their childhood when they are building up their immune system? Have you exhausted all alternative therapies (chiropractic care, homeopathy, acupuncture, bodywork, essential oils) to ensure that your child has the best opportunity for a healthy life?
As I learned more about vaccines and struggled with the decisions we need to make around how to choose for our children, a midwife shared some wise words with me when I sought her counsel. Loosely paraphrased: There are consequences with either decision. If you put something in, you may wish you hadn’t. If you don’t, you may wish you had. Which decision can you live with? Which one lets you sleep at night?
There are a growing number of families who are choosing alternative vaccination schedules. While this post is written for the “yes” or “no” perspective to vaccines, there are middle roads. Dr. Bob Sears offers an alternative schedule in his Vaccine Book, and he also has an active social media page – check it out HERE. Other families are choosing selective vaccination based on the diseases they feel the do/do not want to take risks with.
With whichever path you choose, make your choices, be willing to re-evaluate and change your path if necessary, and by all means respect the choices of those who choose differently. We are all reading, sometimes the same things, and coming to very different conclusions. What we have in common is making decisions for the love of our children. We all believe that we are doing what is best. And therein is the crux of every implosion you will see around the topic.