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Posts tagged ‘Why Vaccinate’

Why I Advocate for the HPV Vaccine After Cancer Took My Husband’s Life

Guest post by Mary Ann Martin

As National Cancer Prevention Month draws to a close, Mary Ann Martin shares the story of her husband’s battle with HPV-associated anal cancer and explains why she advocates for the vaccine that can prevent the cancer that took her husband’s life. 

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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 Mom Andrea: I’ve Read All the Research and I Vaccinate

This is a guest post by Andrea Clement-Johnson who lives with her husband and three children, Breanne, 12, Hayley, 9, and Caleb, 7, in Wellington, CO. She is the Health Education Supervisor at the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment in Fort Collins, CO.  The whole family loves music, hiking, sports and animals, including our two yellow labs Jackson and Archie.

When I was a child, my cousin, Nadine, died in our home while she was visiting us. She was only two. Later we found out she had died from complications of Haemophilus influenzae, type B (Hib). Years later, I learned that a vaccine had been developed for Hib and could have saved her life.

Though I did not really understand vaccination at that point, I remember being struck that my cousin’s death could have been prevented if she had received a vaccine.

After college, I happily entered the health education field.  I got married and had two beautiful daughters. We were so happy when our son, Caleb, joined us and became the icing on the cake. However, it was quickly evident that Caleb was different from my girls. I noticed that he tantrumed very early and he was always difficult to soothe. However, I dismissed the differences as unique qualities of my son.

As a toddler, the communication and behavioral differences became more pronounced. I took Caleb to his pediatrician and insisted that I needed someone to tell me what was happening. Once Caleb was fully evaluated by a team of experts, we received the official diagnosis of autism.

I immersed myself in reading everything I could about autism. One of the first websites I stumbled upon indicated that vaccines were a “likely culprit” contributing to the high rates of autism. I was initially surprised. I had remembered hearing other moms talk about a fear of poisons being injected into their children. I remember thinking at the time that this was silly, recalling my cousin’s tragic death. I had no idea how pervasive the autism and vaccine debate was or how much this would impact my life.

I started looking at more information about autism and vaccination.  I read stories that parents shared about their typically developing children who, following immunization, were diagnosed with autism. This was perplexing. I didn’t want to doubt any parent of a child with autism. I investigated thimerosal, schedules, and I even learned how immunizations worked.

I read all the research, listened to the concerns from parents who are looking for an answer. Through my research, I began to see there was no evidence to support vaccines causing autism or any other childhood developmental disorder.

I understand that because of the complexities surrounding autism, and the variety in onset and degree of severity, it’s difficult to accept unknowns. I learned that my thoughts, though based on extensive research and good intentions as a mom, are not always enough to sway those people who see things differently, but I continue to make my feelings known about vaccination. I’ve come to learn that if I don’t convince a parent to see things “my” way, so be it. At least I may encourage those parents still weighing their options to consider talking to their provider or to learn more before delaying or avoiding immunizing their children. Through my experiences as a parent of a child with autism and a health educator, I feel I can confidently say that I have looked at the issue through both lenses. I strongly support immunization as one of the best choices a parent can make for their children.

I became so impressed with immunization that I eventually took a position as a manager with the Wyoming Immunization Section. My appreciation for and belief of timely, appropriate immunization across the lifespan has continued. I’m so fortunate to continue working in immunization in my current position in Larimer County as a Health Education Supervisor.

Like most parents of a child with special needs, I often take a path that has many uncertainties, which can create fears. One thing I don’t fear is that vaccination causes autism. The fears I have related to immunization are fears that choosing a delayed schedule or choosing not to immunize could cause a child to become infected with a preventable illness, causing unnecessary suffering or death for them and other vulnerable individuals.

Although autism would not have been the path I would have chosen for Caleb, he has been my greatest lesson about truly meaning it when you say you only want for your child to happy and to have a place in the world.  My son makes regular, fabulous progress and he is a beautiful, loving, wonderful child who is still the icing on my cake!