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Should or Should You NOT Vaccinate?!

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One mom recently ranted, "Vaccinate Your Kids, You Idiots!" Ouch. Harsh words, but definitely a hot-button issue amongst the moms. Here's what members of our community had to say:

child getting vaccine

Wow - this is a super-charged topic. But to punish and single out the children? That's ridiculous and cruel.

I've seen and experienced both sides of the coin.

1) My son got a cocktail of vaccines when he was one, and within a day was in the hospital.
2) My son didn't get the RSV vaccine when he was no longer considered at risk, but caught it.
I vaccinate my son - but now he receives only one at a time. Yep - one shot every other week until the government mandated schedule is completed.
- Cara

Wow, you really do have an opinion about this. What has made you so angry about this issue? I am one of those idiot parents who chose to learn more about the injections given to my children. I chose to not only take the advice from my doctor (who did not have children yet) but to read several books on the subject. The pros and cons were amazing. I chose to then talk to my doctor about my concerns, which led to choosing the right vac's for each individual child. I think this made me a more informed parent and less of an idiot! My children have contracted diseases from others who have been vaccinated. I never ever thought of having separate worlds and rules for those of you who have chosen full vac's. My advice to you is to become more informed about an issue before making your opinions known. - Sharon Brandt

I can sympathize with your frustration - to a point, but I don't think name-calling and "branding" helps your argument to be compelling. Besides, if your kids are vaccinated, they are not likely to contract the disease from unvaccinated kids. That, after all, is the whole point of vaccination. - Sara

To shed some light on the vaccination topic, we asked pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson to weigh in:

Every parent must make a choice whether or not to vaccinate. Whether your child gets several immunizations at once, or if she gets one at a time, or if you opt not to vaccinate her at all, these are all choices. You cannot just make the debate go away by avoiding the question. And parents are truly struggling with how to best protect their children -- this is why the debate becomes so heated.

In my opinion, the biggest issue here is that parents who choose not to vaccinate their children rely upon the rest of the community actually vaccinating. There are several recent examples of serious, sometimes life-threatening infections (such as measles, Haemophilus influenzae type B, and pertussis) rapidly spreading through communities where a large number of children are unvaccinated. Five or ten years ago, when almost all children received the vaccines, the handful that did not get vaccinated were still fairly safe because the rest of the (vaccinated) population kept specific diseases away. Now, with an increasing population of unvaccinated kids -- particularly in specific communities -- certain infections can appear and spread rapidly, infecting not just children but vulnerable infants and elderly people as well. Before there were vaccines against these diseases, they caused serious illness or even death.

We may be seeing a return to this prior state: diseases that haven't caused problems for decades may be coming back because of our choices about vaccination. So when you choose not to vaccinate your child, it needs to be an educated choice, and an active choice, at that. Part of that choice is specific to your child and part is about general public health. A parent needs to weigh the pros and cons in all directions.

Personally, I believe in vaccines. I vaccinated both of my children, often giving them several shots at once. I did this because I have read all of the data available and as a result I do not worry that the vaccines put my children in harm's way. Rather, I think they have a huge benefit. But I do not impose my personal choice on others. My job as a pediatrician is to explain both sides and then let parents choose for themselves. This choice includes a clear understanding of all sides, including the risks of not vaccinating a child.

Parents who opt to give one vaccine at a time have selected a middle ground that may be reasonable. If you are one of these parents, though, just make sure to consult closely with your pediatrician so that you are choosing to do the most important vaccines first. If you don't know which illnesses are most threatening to children of various ages, how can you possibly decide the order of the vaccines yourself? You cannot. This has to be a fluid and ongoing conversation with your healthcare provider.

next: 5-Year-Old Shot, Killed During Her Birthday Party
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