Why I Immunize My Child

I was thinking about the controversy over immunizing children.

I've read online that there was a recent episode of Law and Order: SVU where a mother who chose not to immunize her child was on trial for murder. Her child was exhibiting symptoms of measles, and another child (one too young to receive the MMR vaccine) was exposed and subsequently died. This episode has caused an uproar on many "mommy" discussion boards, from both the pro-immunization and anti-immunization camps. (Incidentally, I believe the mother was found "not guilty" on this episode.) Anti-immunization mommies are furious (and rightly so) that not vaccinating their children can brand them as "murderers". Many pro-immunization mommies are lauding the episode for bringing a "dangerous choice" out into the open.

Here's my opinion: a mother has every right to choose what she thinks is best for her children. If she makes the decision to decline immunizations for her children, good for her. It's none of my business to tell her how to raise her children. That episode should not have highlighted such a controversy in such a one-sided way. If you ask me, the problem was not that the mother chose not to vaccinate her child. The problem was that the mother didn't keep her SICK CHILD HOME. Mothers, if your child is sick, vaccinated or non-vaccinated, show some common sense and keep him/her at home! I promise to do the same with my sick children.

I am driven in all of my medical choices by a concept in Moroni 7:12 : "Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God." In my mind, anything created with the purpose to increase the health or longevity of an individual or reduce the pain or suffering of an individual is a good thing, and therefore has been inspired by God (this is a sweeping generalization, obviously--I'm sure there are many things that appear to be "good" but, in fact, aren't. This is where personal revelation comes in). I believe most medical professionals honestly have the best interests of their patients in mind and can receive inspiration from above when treating their patients. I've been extremely fortunate--all of the doctors I've visited have been excellent, and I've never felt the need to doubt their judgment or recommendations. If I did feel that need, I wouldn't hesitate to make my voice heard. The bottom line is, I reserve the right to make my own choices regarding my health care and that of my family. I just happen to choose to trust medical professionals who have my and my family's best interests at heart. This doesn't make me uninformed or naive. It doesn't make me a sheep.

Kyle has received all of the recommended immunizations at the recommended ages. I believe immunizations were created to reduce the occurrence of debilitating diseases, and to me, that is a good thing. I will probably choose to immunize all of my other children as well. To me, the benefits outweigh the risks.


Carolyn said...

Great, reasonable post!

Parkers said...

I actually saw that episode. I had never seen Law and Order before, and what an episode to tune into! I cried several times (Jeff subsequently banned me from watching it ever again...)

After the episode I immediately ran to Lily's records to make sure she was covered for the Measles. I agree that every mother has the right to make decisions for her young children, but there are more factors to consider when it comes to immunizations than the potential risks to a single child. It is because of new vaccinations that so many of the diseases that were prominent killers in previous decades are practically eradicated. I hesitate to say that mothers who choose not the immunize their children are "guilty" if other children become infected, but I can't imagine being the mother whose child dies because another person's decision.

In the show the measles were in an "incubation" stage, so the mother wouldn't have known that her son was sick when she took him to a public park. What do you think about that? Just curious. How could that have been prevented while maintaining the rights of the infant who was killed as well as the mother who chose not to immunize her son?

The Lowe's said...

I saw that episode too. This has been a very hard decision for me also. I have been trying to do some research into it and I think there are good points on both sides.

The scary thing about vaccines is the link to autism. I saw a show that followed a family that had their son come down with autism between 2 and 3. They said by 3 (after the MMR shot) it was like the light went out in him and that things they had taught him to do at 2 he couldn't do anymore. Other shows and research I've done shows that there are nearly double the vaccines now than there were when we were kids. Not only that, but kids with autism test with very high levels of mercury in their bodies and part of autism treatment options is to get the mercury out. The US still has vaccines with mercury in it while other countries already have banned it. There is so much to this vaccine thing that is scary. I think vaccines are wonderful and need to be given, but how many, and when? If autism is preventable then steps need to be taken to preserve the life and sprit of the sweet children we are blessed with.

Katie said...

I totally agree with you. Give the right of decision to the parents, and live and let live. Few things bother me more than the government attempting to take over parental rights and judgement calls.

As a note, I believe that God created our immune systems to be perfectly capable of fighting all diseases (so long as the immune system is in good working order... and that's the key). A healthy immune system is far superior than anything chemical that comes from a laboratory. What man creates on this earth may also come from God, or it may not. But I like that you pointed out that that's where personal revelation comes in. I respect other people's decisions that they make for their children. Good post. A favorite topic of mine. Did my senior research project on it. :)

Lindsey said...

Although mothers do not HAVE to immunize their children I believe it is selfish ignorance that prevents them from doing so. I believe they don't vaccinate because they think communal immunity will protect their child. Communal immunity is based on the idea that if all other children are vaccinated you don't have to vaccinate your own child because they are protected by the fact that the other children will not contract the disease/virus. This is true, but if many people do not vaccinate based on this idea, diseases will return and they will be more vicious because of genetic mutation....this is a very basic explanation of why I think it is so important to vaccinate. I hate taking Liam to the doctor for those shots, but I know it is better for ALL of our children if I do. I let the nurse give my child those shots because I care about other peoples children as well.
Sorry to get on a soap box, but this is just one of those topics I feel strongly about.
Great post Jessica.

Cole, Jessica, and Kyle said...

Amy: As far as the disease being in the "incubation" stage, I think it's still possible for a mother to know if her child is LIKELY to contract a disease. Measles really isn't that common. Her child would have had to have been exposed to someone else with the disease...if her child was exposed to someone in the "incubation" stage, odds are she would have heard if that person started exhibiting symptoms and taken precautions for her own child.

Perhaps that is a little much for me to assume. Well, the measles (as well as many other diseases caused by viruses) are transmitted via respiratory secretions, like coughing or sneezing. I don't think it's ever too early to teach your children manners when coughing or sneezing, even if those actions seem to be innocuous. Furthermore, if your kid sneezes or coughs on his/her hands, WASH THEM! Preventing the spread of disease is common sense. Yes, some diseases (like the measles) are highly contagious, but one can significantly reduce the transmission risk by observing health-conscious practices.

Crystal: According to the CDC website, mercury hasn't been in routinely recommended childhood vaccines (with the exception of a few influenza vaccines) since 2001. In addition, thiomersal (mercury) was removed from all vaccines in 1992 in Denmark and Sweden, and the number of cases of autism in these countries continues to rise.

Katie: I really don't mean to be contrary...but what's your opinion on HIV? If our immune systems were really meant to fight all diseases, why are there a few that are still impossible for a human to beat? Also, why do you think so many people die from simple viruses like the flu every year? Also, what constitutes an immune system in "good working order"? Just curious. :)

Lindsey: While I agree that in some cases, mothers choose not to immunize their children because of "selfish ignorance," we need to be careful about making blanket generalizations. I've read blogs of a lot of parents who have decided not to immunize their children, and they have done substantial, convincing research to back up their choices. Just as I believe I'm doing what's best for my child by vaccinating, they believe they're doing the best for their child by not vaccinating.

Lindsey said...

I am sorry that you thought I was making a blanket generalization. I will clarify my generalization. It is selfish not to get your child immunized. Not doing so is a blatant disregard for the rest of the population, which is selfish. When someone chooses not to immunize their child they are ignorant enough to think it only impacts THEIR child, and they fail to see that their decision has implications for society as a whole. I think people who "research" immunizations and still chose not to vaccinate their children did not understand the research they did, and that they failed to do a thorough job. I think a critical part in deciding whether or not to vaccinate children (something I believe should be mandatory for a child to enter into a public school) is to study the diseases you are preventing. I would much rather my child have some weird reaction to an immunization (including autism, although they don't know what causes it) than to contract the debilitating disease of polio, the mumps, hepatitis or other horrible diseases. We have vaccinations because scientists KNOW what causes these diseases and how to prevent them.

I know I am opinionated on this subject, but public health was a huge part of my undergraduate studies. And like I said before I feel very strongly about vaccinations. And I recognize that I am selfish in my own way because I think people should vaccinate their children to protect MY children.

Cole, Jessica, and Kyle said...

Lindsey: I totally agree with you. But, since my last opinionated post (re: breastfeeding) I've been extra careful in the way I express my opinion. I've been ripped to shreds by a girl I've never even met, and by her friends, who I've never met, because my opinion was different than hers. I guess I'm just oversensitive now. :)

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