Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Don't Judge Other Parents - Except on the topic of vaccinating...

I was going to write about something else this afternoon.

I actually don't love writing about this topic, but every now and then I'm moved to do so anyway because it hurts, it really hurts.

Judgement has a way of hurting, doesn't it.

I've seen so many blogging campaigns against judgement, but one I never see is against the judgement of parents who don't vaccinate.

This is presumably because parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are evil, heartless and cruel.

Not only to our own children who many believe we fail in our duty to protect, but also to everyone else's children; most especially children who suffer immune deficiencies in the wake of terrible illnesses such as cancer.

By choosing not to vaccinate, we are obviously selfish and ignorant and deserve to be judged.

This hurts.

It hurts for so many reasons, let me list a few...

  • We do love our children. Our choice not to vaccinate stems directly from the love of our children. We want to protect them from harm. Most of us have done copious amounts of research about this and having balanced the risks of the illnesses vaccines protect again and risks associated with vaccines (many of which are yet to be discovered because so little research is done on the safety of vaccines, particularly in the long term) we've decided against vaccinating.
  • We do care about your child and children with lowered immunity - those videos make us cry, too (as do the videos of children who have died in the wake of vaccination and who are not acknowledged by the wider medical community). As parents, we feel empathy for other parents who only want their child to be healthy and happy. We want that, too. Most of us don't ask you not to vaccinate. Most of us understand that this is a difficult decision for any parent and we respect your choice to vaccinate. We just want the same respect.
  • We don't understand why it's okay for you to demand we put our child at risk for the sake of 'herd immunity' when this phenomenon doesn't actually work, and never has. No vaccine has 100% coverage (that is, it doesn't cause immunity in 100% of the people who are vaccinated), most have about 80% coverage, a couple have as low as 60% coverage. For herd immunity to work, there needs to be 85% coverage, or higher. If every person on the planet was vaccinated, there still wouldn't be 85% coverage. Your child may have every vaccinate and every booster shot and still not be immune to the illness - and hardly anyone checks their child's immunity after the vaccine is administered.
  • Unvaccinated children are not the only risk to immune depressed people. Adults who have not had their boosters also create risk, and most adults don't get those booster done (most vaccines require a booster every 5-10 years - when did you have your last booster?).
  • Our children are not infectious unless they currently have the illness in question. Our children are not incubus for disease because they are not vaccinated.
  • Even though your child is vaccinated, they may still catch and spread any of the illnesses they are vaccinated for. Your children still pose a risk to immune-deficient members of society.
But the biggest reason the judgement hurts is because it's judgement and we constantly hear and read about how 'One should not judge until one has walked a mile in the other person's moccasins' - and yet this doesn't seem to apply to us because we choose to protect our children by not vaccinating them.

Okay, you don't agree with my parenting choice? Not a problem. Just remember your manners, if not your compassion.


Anonymous said...

I truly TRULY believe in vaccinating children. I believe in freedom to parent as you choose more, though.

Sif Dal said...

Thank you! This is my point - we all have very strong beliefs about all sorts of topics and goodness knows most parents are passionate about the choices they make for their child. Acknowledging that parents make the very best choices their conscience allows should be extended to all parents, even if they make different choices from our own (and obviously, I'm not talking about abuse or neglect).

carmen said...

Thank YOU Sif, for so eloquently putting our views out there.
I'm another who feels that judgement and hurt regularly. I'm over trying to explain constantly - they don't want to listen.
We have our reasons... and we haven't made our choices lightly but I don't judge others for choosing TO vaccinate, why can't they do they same for us?

lyndaal said...

I absolutely agree - people need to be less judgey mcjudgerson and understand that parents are doing the very best and when they make decisions they do so out of love and a truckload of education and making decisions that are totally right for them.

EssentiallyJess said...

Thanks Sif for presenting a balanced argument, and not the 'vaccines give kids autism' that is usually toted around.
I do believe in vaccine, but you're right it is totally your choice to do what you like.
Thanks for linking today. :)

Julie said...

Thanks Sif. I'm a believer in vaccinations too, but I agree with you - there is FAR to much judging going around the parenting choices of others - and not just limited to vaccinations either!

Sif Dal said...

Thank you everyone for your support. This post was triggered bya response to a tragic story of a newborn who caught whooping cough from her mother (who had been vaccinated but hadn't had a booster) and died - it's making the rounds on Facebook. These stories are heartbreaking. Someone said that if parents who don't vaccinate experienced childhood diseases or the complications from them, they would feel differently. This really upset me because a) it implies we can't feel the same sympathy other parents who have their children vaccinated feel for parents who lose their children to illnesses which can be vaccinated against and b) I have had at least one child with whooping cough and it was scary, and no he didn't die but yes I hated seeing him go though that (coughing until he vomited every day for weeks on end, biting the inside of his mouth during a coughing fit and coughing up a lot of blood), I didn't wish that on him.

I completely respect other parents choosing to vaccinate. Sometimes I wish I could choose to vaccinate, it would certainly be easier, but for my children the anecdotal evidence is to the contrary and we are following our Paed's professional advice after assessing our eldests' immune response to the vaccinations they did receive and our subsequent children have not suffered the way our first two did.

It really is such a personal choice, which I like to believe no parent takes lightly.

Jay said...

I'm seeing/hearing a lot of judgement lately. What is with people?

You made an informed choice. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Good Job!