I remember the day my son got the MMR booster shot.
He was fifteen-months-old; and before the appointment, I got on Facebook and opened up a discussion with a friend who has older kids. “Talk me down,” I said. “Tell me I’m doing the right thing. Tell me he’s not going to get the autism today.”
I had this intense fear that I’d take my son — my perfect, healthy, happy, smiley son — to the doctor, where he’d get the shot and be immediately and irreparably changed. It’s what Jenny McCarthy said would happen, and if you can’t trust a former Singled Out hostess…
The anti-vaccination crowd got to me. As they get to many, maybe most parents. We’re bombarded with information, faulty or otherwise. And it’s the loudest voices that often break through into our subconscious. It’s probably how the Tea Party got to be so popular. Ba-dum-bum.
But come on. Even if some kids have bad reactions to vaccines, the vast, vast, VAST majority do not. Think of the people you know. Think of all the people you know. How many of them, how many of their kids, their friends, their family members, experienced adverse effects from a vaccination? Probably not many.
I know that’s anecdotal evidence and there’s nothing scientific about it, but that’s largely what the anti-vax crowd is relying upon — I know a guy who knew a guy. I did this and this happened. There’s a lot of correlation over causation.
We all want to do the right thing when it comes to our kids. They come into the world pure, untouched. You try your best to keep them in that natural state. And then life starts happening. They need vaccines. They need medicine. It’s time to stop breast feeding and feed them solid foods. You have to switch them out of that nice, safe backwards-facing carseat. They need a big kid bed. They have to go to school. Grandma takes them on a secret trip to McDonald’s. They throw up and you give them Gatorade to keep their electrolytes up and they like it. They want more Gatorade. They crave it. It has what plants crave and what toddlers crave. They date a girl you don’t like. They decide to become a pro football player.
And you feel like a failure, because with every second of every day, that pure, untouched person is becoming less and less so.
But that’s life. And we’re all just trying to give our kids the best one, do as little harm as possible.
Whether that means co-sleeping or cribs, traditional or home schooling, breast feeding or bottle feeding — those are your decisions to make. You need to make the right decision for yourself and your kid.
But there’s a point when that desire to protect your own child crosses into recklessness and selfishness. “If everyone else vaccinates their kids, then mine will be fine — and I can avoid the whole adverse effects thing. My kids will be pure AND healthy! Bonus.” But now five babies who are too young to have received the MMR vaccine have the measles because the anti-vax movement has become an epidemic in this country. As Jordan Peele as Marshawn Lynch would say, “That’s on you. That’s on y’all.”
The plain truth of it is, you can’t shield them from everything. Maybe you can’t keep them away from Chicken McNuggets and Gatorade forever. But you can shield them, and the vulnerable folks around them, from some horrible, communicable diseases.
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