Confession: I can relate to some of the fear anti-vaxxers feel. Because this natural-childbirth-ing, vegetarian, japa-chanting, meditation-practicing yogini had some serious doubts about vaccines when I was pregnant. I read everything I could get my hands on, talked to physicians, holistic practitioners and other experts in the field. There was so much fear-mongering on the anti-vax side, it was hard not to be swayed. Yes, I was concerned about bombarding my daughter’s tiny body with multiple vaccines at once. I didn’t have any medical reason for this – it was the overwhelming responsibility of caring for a tiny being. It was this vulnerability that drove me to use cloth diapers, breast feed for 2+ years, make my own organic baby food, and many other parenting choices that spoke to my need to keep her safe and away from environmental pollutants.
Ultimately, we chose to vaccinate (it was never a question for my husband – he’s a scientist) because all of that fear was just that – fear and insecurity. Not science. To cope with my concerns, I spaced out her vaccines. To ensure she was on schedule, this meant multiple trips to the pediatrician and extra shots (you know, separate measles, mumps and rubella x 3 instead of one bundled shot 3 times). But we vaccinated. Because there are so many things in the world I won’t be able to shield her from but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to protect her from a fatal, but preventable, childhood disease. Because being in community is hugely important to me and protecting my community is part of my social contract. Because I prefer to parent from a place of rational thought than irrational doubt. The rhetoric (mine included) has been angry, impatient, incredulous and dismissive. If you are on the other side of this issue, I want you to know, I had the same concerns. But, get your kids vaccinated. I did. You can too.