Sunday, October 12, 2014

A good number of North Seattle school families have something against vaccines

The moment I became a parent, I bore the weighty and unrelenting yoke to make life and death decisions for the two little people I helped create.  Like every parent, I want the very best for my children and I want to protect them from what is in my power to do so. But I grow so weary of this "debate" about vaccinating. I have to mindfully suppress the feelings of rage that bubble up when data like this gets published--are you serious that we might attend one of the top 5 Kindergartens in Seattle with the highest opt-out rate for vaccinations? WHAT?  (Now, these numbers are from 2012-2013 so I am hoping in the two years since that data was current that things have improved.) But it shocks me--shocks me--that intelligent, educated people still question the value and importance of immunizations.

I'll admit at some point when I was pregnant with Sidney, I considered an alternative vaccination schedule because I got spooked by some things I read on the Internet and some stuff a few fringe moms had said. But I quickly came to my senses and remembered that I believe in science. So the moment Sid came out, we got that kid on the standard vaccination schedule and haven't looked back.  (I didn't even hesitate with Calvin.) Because when it comes to protecting my kids from deadly diseases, immunization is the best way to do this.  Of course it SUCKS as a new, sleep-deprived mom--nerves frayed and protective as hell--to walk into that well-check appointment to get 4 shots and they need your help to hold the baby down.  After the first stick, your little precious looks up at you with surprise, terror and betrayal, or just screams like this one in the KUOW article.

Flickr Photo/Dan Hatton (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
And for a moment, your confidence waivers, protective instincts jolt through your nervous system and it takes a willful, focused effort not to attack the nurse for hurting your baby. But 10 minutes later, everyone is calm, bandaids are in place, outfit back on, car seat buckles strapped and you're outta there. Congratulations, you made it though AND your baby is one step closer to a solid immunity to some of the most deadly and debilitating diseases on the planet.

But the success/disaster of the effectiveness of vaccines is that in our lifetime, most of us have never seen significant outbreaks of these strange diseases. So it's easy to get lulled into a false sense of confidence, as some parents have, and take for granted that this safe medical innovation can prevent unspeakable anguish. These parents send their under-vaccinated kids inevitably into the same playgrounds, daycares, classes and elementary school as my kids.  So then a "personal decision" for that family becomes very personal to me, indeed.  It'd be one thing if we all lived out in the country with acres between us and homeschooling was the norm, but we don't. I think it should simply be: under-vaccinated kids don't belong in public schools.  They just don't.  Not only does it put the fellow students at risk but also their younger, not-yet-able-to-be-fully vaccinated siblings, any immuno-compromised teachers/staff, and pregnant teachers/staff/parents.

Obviously there is a very small population of kids who can't have vaccines on schedule for medical reasons and I am sympathetic to that. It might be the only good reason to object to vaccines but that's an even bigger incentive to make sure all the kids who can have vaccines, get them.  It just smacks of selfishness by burdening the rest of the group.  You wouldn't send a kid to school without the necessary pencils, notebooks and supplies.  So why would you send him/her to school without all their immunities onboard?


ruby said...

Brava daughter!
Very powerful piece.

The Schlameus Family said...

Well said!