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Posts tagged ‘Fear’

Measles Redux, The Unnecessary Epidemic

By Edwin J. Asturias, MD

This editorial appeared in The Denver Post Feb. 5.

Though dormant for years, measles reemerged this year with a vengeance. The first cases erupted in Disneyland before spreading outward, involving 14 states and counting. Now there are 102 confirmed cases, making it the largest measles outbreak since 1990.

This growing epidemic is fueling fierce debate over how to balance public health risks against the rights of increasing numbers of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. Read more

Guest Mom Susan: Making the Right Choice

Guest blogger Susan Wells is the mom to two girls, ages 5 and 8. She is an active mom who hikes, photographs, crafts, lives green, volunteers and explores with her children. She works as a blogger and social media strategist for Steve Spangler Science, a Colorado company dedicated to helping teachers and parents get children excited about science. Susan is also the City Editor for Savvy Source and blogs at TwoHandsTwoFeet.com.

My oldest daughter was born in 2001 amidst the debate that “vaccinations cause autism.” I felt inundated with many claims and stories about the dangers of vaccinations. I began to question my rock solid beliefs that inoculations are a necessity in childhood.

The sheer number of shots a baby begins to receive at two months and continues through two years is unsettling to any new parent. Top that off with claims that the shots could be toxic and parents have a hard time understanding the right path to take.

The torment that both my daughter and I had to endure at each appointment was draining. Nurses handed me packets of information on devastating diseases along with a pages of possible side effects. I had to agree to let the nurses inject her sweet baby legs with what I hoped to be life saving vaccine and not a toxic mixture that would cause her problems down the road. I had to decide, which was worse, the shot or the chance she would come down with one of the life-threatening diseases.

I chose the shot every time.

Back then I was confused about the safety of vaccinations and outside of my doctor, I wasn’t sure where to turn for accurate information. Now that I have found the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, I have a powerful resource to look to when questions arise about immunizations. I only wish I had a resource like CCIC back in the early days to help me sort it all out.

My daughter had some of the more mild side effects from the injections. She developed large welts where the shots were injected. She had fevers for two days following the shots. The first few injections were tough, but we learned to anticipate and treat the symptoms. I reminded myself over and over that a welt for a week or two was better than a hospital stay and a 101 fever was better than a 104 fever.

The immunizations gave me peace of mind that my baby would stay healthy and protected.

I have done my research and continue to do my research on immunizations. I keep my daughters protected from the potentially life-threatening diseases that are controlled through vaccines.

When H1N1 began making the rounds, I anxiously waited for the vaccine to become available to protect my children. I stayed up on the latest research and news about the safety of the vaccine. I read the CCIC website and I stayed connected to my doctor’s office. And my daughters both received the vaccine when it became available.

Throughout the last decade a lot of misinformation and publicity has surrounded the safety of vaccinations. It has catapulted a trusted and necessary part of childhood into an international debate about the safety of vaccinations.

The claims against vaccinations have led to state legislatures adding provisions that make it easier for parents to opt out of vaccinations on philosophical or religious grounds. With some parents opting out, the occurrence of diseases like measles is on the rise.

Getting your children vaccinated can be a traumatic time for both parent and child, but it is key to keeping your children healthy. I held my breath during those shots but I have never looked back. I believe it was the right decision.

My advice; do the research before you take your baby to the doctor. Organizations like the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition and talking with your pediatrician will help put your mind at ease and help you make the right choice in immunizing your child.

A Letter to Parents Who Vaccinate

Dear Parents,

Like me, you would do anything for your child. Like me, you can’t imagine a world without them and you would do anything you can to keep them from harm’s way. Maybe like me, you stood in wonder next to her crib and cried with joy the week you brought her home amazed and blessed with the gift of parenthood. You may have even thought naively (before you had your second…third…fourth) that you could not love anything or anyone more than this child – your child.

What I came to realize is that parenthood has its blessings and its burdens. It is the ultimate challenge of making the best decisions you can with the knowledge, skills and resources you have at your disposal at the time. I admit I’ve made mistakes. What parent hasn’t? I just hope I leaned from them, that I show myself compassion for having made them and that my daughters forgive me for them. I hope they know I do the best I can with the information I have at the time. I hope they can appreciate my process for making my decisions and the risks I am willing or not willing to take on their behalf.

The burden of decision-making and risk taking in the world of parenthood is the ultimate ante. The stakes are high. There are no rules of engagement…you’re on 24/7. Maybe like me you know the Calvary isn’t coming, at least not today (the grandparents live several states away). The funny thing is so many decisions come from your gut. Deep inside there is a response, a feeling, a knowing that you either know the answer or you don’t. When you hesitate you look around and seek out advice or information from friends, on the web, your parents, maybe your healthcare provider, someone you trust.

You look for confirmation of what your gut is telling you. Maybe, like me, you ask questions, talk about experiences. Maybe, like me, you look to incorporate the latest research and science about a particular topic whether it is immunizations, soy formula or sleep schedules.

Choosing to vaccinate is one of those tough decisions. Made tougher still by conflicting advice, various beliefs, and the temporary discomfort of a needle poke, but rest assured you made the best decision. You can feel confident in that choice. Be confident that you made an informed decision backed by rigorous scientific methods. You made the best choice for your child’s health. Really, for ALL children’s health and I applaud you.

And you don’t stand alone. Over 80% of us parents have made that choice. It is a choice for health and well-being. Thank you parents! There are no instruction manuals, warranties, or guaranteed satisfaction when making parenting decisions but choosing vaccines is one you can feel confident and assumed was the right one.

Sincerely,

Melanie

Guest Dad Josh: Vaccination, Against All Odds

Welcome our first guest Dad post! Thank you to Josh for lending his voice to this issue and being one awesome father.

Josh Tyson lives in Denver with his wife, Nicole, and their sons, Elias and Arius. He chronicles the media they (cautiously) share with their boys at thekidsarewatching.com and is a member of New Age Dad, the nation’s premier rock band of dads, toddlers, babies and dogs. Josh is a regular contributor to the New York Times’ Motherlode blog and is currently working on some children’s books.

My wife and I have always been skeptical of the classic American approach to well being. We don’t pop pain tablets when we have headaches and when we have colds we drink heaps of herbal tea in lieu of narcotic syrups. I sincerely doubt that either of us will ever experiment with antidepressants and putting one of our kids on something like Ritalin is out of the question.

Nicole pushed both of our boys into this world without meds and started breastfeeding them right away. We didn’t have them circumcised and weren’t thrilled about subjecting them to a battery of needles in the first few years of their lives.
In the months leading up to the birth of our first, the hasty conspiracy theorist in me was tempted to write off vaccination as another shortsighted way for Big Medicine to line their pockets, but the more research we did, the more confident we became that vaccination was the best choice for our family.

Nicole has a cousin with severe autism, so the concerns posed by famous people and concerned parents out of the limelight were not taken lightly. In the end, however, we decided that there wasn’t significant evidence to link vaccines to autism and that the risks of not vaccinating were far greater than the minimal risks posed by the catalog of recommended vaccines.

We also took into account that we want to travel with our boys, and there are plenty of global destinations we are interested in where diseases like polio haven’t been totally eradicated. Then there was the issue of civic duty. A big part of the reason that vaccines have been so effective in keeping the populace here free of nasty things like measles and mumps is that the vast majority of us are vaccinated against them.

What sealed the deal for us was the fact that every doctor we talked to had vaccinated their kids, or planned to when they had them. Out skepticism of certain elements of western medicine has always been taken with a grain of salt—namely that we aren’t doctors and what we know about the inner-workings of human body is scant compared with somebody who has trudged through eight years of medical school.

So while we’ll continue to keep our medicine cabinets bare, we’ll do so with extra piece of mind.