play it again: where your freedom to choose hurts

Still not apologizing. Vaccinate your kids!

Originally published June 12, 2013

With no apology whatsoever, I am about to piss off a community of parents…the anti-vaxxers, and I don’t really care. Yes, of course you as the parent have the right to make an informed decision about the health and welfare of your child because you are the parent. I chose to breast feed. I chose to use cloth diapers. I chose to not circumcise. I chose to delay the start of kindergarten for two of my children and started another when she was 4 years old. All of these were decisions that my husband and I made as parents after careful thought and discussion…as parents do. And not one of these parenting decisions has affected the health and welfare of another person. Now a parent can choose to not vaccinate their children. That’s their choice. Unfortunately that choice can and often does affect the health and welfare of others around them…at their schools, playgroups, churches and random encounters with total strangers.

I’ve seen the consequences of this personal parenting choice too many times as an RN in the NICU. Nothing is more heartbreaking than watching a newborn infant fight for their life from a infectious childhood disease that can be totally preventable. It’s even more gut wrenching to be at that bedside with a grief-stricken parent who never would have imagined their thoughtful parenting choice would harm one of their own children, when they are the most vulnerable.

It’s sad.

It’s tragic.

But now it is personal.

Fallon has Rubella, also known as German measles. She has yet to have received her MMR vaccine because at her 15 month pedi visit, she was sick so the doctor suggested to wait until her 18 month visit which would have been right about now, now when she is sick. So where in the world could she have picked up this lovely virus? Given the incubation period and the fact that we know no one in Fallon’s circle who is sick with this we track back to that dance competition in Davis where anyone could have been unknowingly coughing and sneezing and talking and spreading little Rubella viruses everywhere. Not a big deal for the majority of the people there who were likely vaccinated against Rubella or, like me, had Rubella.

Your Rubella droplets can’t hurt us!

But what about an infant or young toddler who isn’t vaccinated? Or perhaps a woman who is pregnant? What about her vulnerable unborn baby?

Looking at my sweet grand baby covered in an uncomfortable rash and thinking about Hollie’s newly pregnant friend who was unwittingly exposed, I say your argument is invalid.