As I write this, the ongoing war between the medical community and the anti-vaccination community is raging to new heights which – quite frankly – I didn’t even know was possible.
According to multiple sources including the CDC, in the last year, the rate of measles outbreaks has doubled and taken the lives of 110,000 children, worldwide. A 6-year-old in Oregon recently got a cut on his forehead and was later treated for tetanus – the first outbreak of this disease the state has seen in over 30 years.
As a result of not being vaccinated and, subsequently, falling ill with tetanus, the little boy spent 47 days in intensive care. Set aside the emotional and physical danger this put the child in; consider the medical bills alone.
While I am very much convinced of the necessity and effectiveness of vaccines, I am somewhat sympathetic to the parents of children that truly believe or fear that there is a chance vaccinating will cause more harm than it does good.
I think most parents can at least sympathize with that lingering “what if” question that resonates in the back of every new parents’ mind. It’s the same voice that makes you second guess pretty much every decision you make as a new parent. My child had all his vaccinations at the recommended time and dosage and I don’t regret it for a second… at least not in retrospect.
What I will admit is that, with every series of shots he received, I always had lingering doubt in my mind. It wasn’t based on facts or scientific proof or any real rational that I could justify; it was purely driven by emotion. The seed of doubt had been planted throughout mom blogs and medicinal alternative resources and even among some extra granola-y friends. And once that seed of doubt enters your brain, it’s hard to relinquish. So, even though I was equipped with enough knowledge and common sense to know I was doing the right thing, there was still that “what if” feeling that is very hard to shake.
But this article is not meant to justify the pro-vaccination renegades nor the anti-vaxxer enthusiasts. It’s actually to bring up an alarming concern that I have yet to see or hear anyone broach. That is the relevance with regards to how doctors, nurses, and medical professionals treat affluent patients and vaccinations. And it’s a HUGE issue.
While I was pregnant, I sought the counsel of two prenatal nurses, one gynecologist, and a pediatrician (postpartum). This was during my “decision making” days when I was still hesitant about the whole vaccination debacle. In my defense, I knew for sure I was going to vaccinate my child. What I didn’t know was if there were better ways to go about it. Should I do a prolonged schedule? Were there certain vaccines I could forgo? Were there safer methods of ensuring my son get his vaccinations while also safeguarding him from any potential side-effects?
Any good doctor or nurse would have metaphorically “smacked some sense into me” and told me no. There was a reason they recommended a specific schedule and specific vaccinations and that it wasn’t just to ensure the safety of my own son; it was also a measure to ensure the safety and health of all sons and daughters. Everywhere. That’s what a GOOD medical professional would have advised.
Instead, every single one of them told me that, because I was in a more “affluent” and “safer” area, I had the latitude of choosing a more delayed vaccination schedule. One nurse even said I could probably forgo the hepatitis vaccine because “I wasn’t very likely to be around people exposed to that.” Whatever that means.
I don’t like to “infer” things, so I’m just going to straight up tell you what these medical professionals meant: Because I was a fairly well-off white person, living in a fairly nice area, surrounded by families that (probably) had access to good medical provisions and (I guess) were less likely to have kids that had immune system that couldn’t handle vaccinations – I was off the hook.
The level of assumptions these professionals made without having ever seen where I live met my extended family, mingled with my friends, or had any real grasp of what daycare my kid would end up in or who he would be exposed to is completely reckless, irresponsible, and unsubstantiated. At the least it was elitist and at the most, it was straight-up racist.
Guess what? You can get any disease regardless of your skin color, your socioeconomic status, or your location. Is there more prevalence of illness in lower economic communities? Of course. But your zip code, your wallet, and your race should have ZERO influence on the medical advise bestowed on you from prenatal and postpartum doctors. Being “less at risk” doesn’t make you “not at risk.” And, as a member of a functioning society, you have a responsibility to EVERY child and family out there to help make sure their kids stay safe, too. Period. You wouldn’t bring peanuts to a birthday party if you knew that a few of the kids there were susceptible to peanut-induced, life-threatening asthma attacks, would you? No.
So, why are doctors and nurses telling certain new parents that they have a hall pass with vaccination enforcement?
I’m HOPING that I am a rare case. I’m HOPING that I just got unlucky with some probably well-intentioned medical professionals who were also very clouded in their judgment and assumptions. I’m HOPING this is not par-for-the-course with most people’s experience. Because if it is, we have a much bigger problem than ill-informed mommy blogs.