The 24th – 30th of April is World Immunization Week and African Vaccination Week, and Pampers asked me about my motivation to vaccinating my child. While this is a topic that I usually approach with great caution, in recent months I have had good reason to become more passionate about the cause.
In the journey of parenthood, there are many choices that we have to make for the well-being of our children and usually, it feels like no matter which choice you make, there will always be someone to judge you. It all starts with your birthing choice (c-section vs. natural), how you choose to feed your child (breast vs. formula) and so the great debates of parenting continue. Usually, I respect your choice and think that at the end of the day, we are all doing the best for our children but there’s one thing that I struggle to accept, and that’s not vaccinating your child.
When I was growing up, vaccination wasn’t even a topic of discussion, it was just assumed that all people vaccinated their children because that was the norm. I am pretty sure that there probably were some anti-vaxxers way back then, but thankfully, there were few enough that they didn’t compromise the hard work done to prevent serious diseases.
Vaccinations were understood to protect the human race and they continue to be developed to do just that. The problem is that in recent years, there’s been a bunch of unofficial studies making us question on whether vaccinating is really helping our children or not. There was even a bizarre claim that vaccines were causing autism. Decades of medical research have been undone because of these claims, with more people choosing not to vaccinate their children.
Take a minute to watch this video – and while you do, imagine living in a time where these illnesses were killing thousands of people at a time.
Think about it, if I were to give you a pill and say that if you were to take this pill, the chances of you developing cancer are reduced significantly – would you take it? I am guessing yes. So why are we questioning vaccinating our children, when there is so much research and actual evidence supporting that vaccinations are saving our population from dreaded diseases?
You’re probably wondering why I care so much about this topic. After all, it is your child and your parenting choice. But here’s the thing, vaccinations don’t just protect your child – they protect the children around them too! It is called herd immunity which, according to Wikipedia, is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune.
At the end of last year, a very close friend welcomed her beautiful son into the world who I adore and love very much. He was later diagnosed with a disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system. The result is that while his immune system is fine, his lungs cannot get rid of bacteria very well so he will get sick very often, in his lungs. When you are sick, your body has to work harder, but he already has trouble breathing so being sick makes him more tired than the average kid. That being said, if he happens to be sick and catches something like the measles, his body may not survive it. So his mom ensures that he gets his vaccines – but as we know, that doesn’t mean you are 100% immune to the infectious diseases, so she relies on other parents to vaccinate their children so that the herd is stronger and less likely of catching and spreading an infectious disease.
Ignorance is bliss and while it is easy to say that your child is healthy despite not having their vaccines, it is also selfish. Selfish to the parents who like my friend, are trying their hardest to keep their kid germ free. It is very different when it becomes personal and you realize that there are people out there who have a responsibility to protect someone you love but aren’t fulfilling that responsibility.
So what can you do to help?
Besides ensuring that your children are vaccinated, it’s time to start the conversation around the importance of vaccines and herd immunity. There are thousands of resources that you can refer to that provide all the research and knowledge that you need:
- Immunization prevents illness, disability, and death from vaccine-preventable diseases including cervical cancer, diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella, and tetanus.
- Immunization currently averts an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year. An additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, however, if global vaccination coverage improves.
- An estimated 19.4 million infants worldwide are still missing out on basic vaccines.
Source: WHO – Immunization Facts