To Vaccinate or Not



I took David to the doctor's today for his two month appointment (a little late, I know, but I blame the holidays). He weighs just shy of 14 pounds. He cooed like crazy and flashed his big gummy smile while the doctor checked him over. Then he got his vaccinations and wailed so hard it felt like someone was stabbing me with something sharp as well. Elise clung to my leg and cried too when she heard David's distress.

For the entire appointment, I had nervous butterflies anticipating the shots. Even though I'm for vaccinations, I couldn't help but feel apprehensive given the controversy over vaccines. I told the doctor, before he went ahead, that I needed "the pep talk." He presented a convincing argument about why I should vaccinate and how there is no compelling evidence that links vaccinations to autism. He's a father himself, and I trust him.

After the appointment, I called my friend Lauren (who's also a nurse). I told her I needed just a little more reassurance that I did the right thing. She just vaccinated her own baby a few weeks before. She reminded me that there have been fourteen studies in the US and abroad concluding that there is no connection between vaccines and autism. What's more she reminded me that the CDC, AAP, UNICEF, and the World Healthy Organization all support vaccinations.

So why do the few voices of dissent ring so loudly in my ear? Why is Jennie McCarthy's story so compelling? As a mom, I guess I can't help but also trust other moms. I believe in the idea that moms know best when it comes to their children. I believe Jennie McCarthy when she says that she believes vaccines caused or triggered her son's autism.

All of this leaves me feeling conflicted. Yet I have to fall back on trusting my own instincts. Vaccines have wiped out some very deadly diseases. They are truly a great invention of modern medicine. After weighing all of the risks, I come down on the side of inoculations. Yes, I'll always worry that each choice I'm making is the best for my children. It's hard to feel good about anything that causes my kids pain. It's a lesson in tough love right from the start. It's not the last decision I'll have to make, but thankfully, it seems the majority of experts believe it's the right one.