My son turns one in a few weeks. I don’t want to talk about it. Cue tears. As tough as it is coming to terms with the fact that my tiny baby will soon be a toddler, there are also a lot of exciting things that come with that. One of those things is his round of year one vaccinations. You heard me right. I’m excited for my child to get shots. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to this since the day he was born. I’m sure I’ve already lost a few readers by now, but for those of you still reading, let me explain. You see, around the time my son was born, Colorado was in the middle of a measles outbreak. Yes. Measles. That one disease that was declared eliminated from the United Sates in 2000 (source: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/history.html). Even as I write this, I can feel my blood pressure beginning to rise. Over the past year, I’ve had to be acutely aware of everyone we came into contact with. Any visit to The Children’s Museum, the mall, heck even his doctor’s appointment came with a dose of anxiety. “What if he comes into contact with someone who has the measles?” I’d think to myself. “What about the Chicken pox?” As someone who is immunocompromised myself, my fear of passing that along to my son and then him becoming infected with something that could land him in the hospital, and even potentially kill him? Well, that’s too much for this anxious mom’s brain to handle. Add on to that the frustration that there are actual vaccines that can help prevent the spread of these diseases to those who’s immune systems are immature or compromised, and my brain feels like it might explode.
All of these thoughts are enough to send me into a spiral of anxiety without having to also take into consideration we are in the middle of a global pandemic. Am I nervous to take my child to the pediatrician for his vaccines during this time? Absolutely. Will I go anyway? You bet. Because if we don’t stay current on our vaccines, we face a far greater risk once the fear of a global pandemic has subsided a bit. According to the CDC, “As social distancing requirements are relaxed, children who are not protected by vaccines will be more vulnerable to diseases such as measles” (source: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6919e2.htm). I have no interest in another global pandemic because we lost control of previously controlled outbreaks, thank you very much.
I understand that not everyone is able to get vaccines due to allergies or other various factors. I respect that. But I have a very hard time understanding the choice not to prevent the spread of often deadly diseases when given the opportunity. Sure, there are risks and side effects. But there are also risks in driving a car. Yes, you should do your due diligence and research. But make sure to also research the devastating effects of measles on a six-month old or chicken pox on a cancer patient. Right now, we are morally obligated to do all that we can to protect ourselves and, dare I say, each other. Talk to you doctor about vaccines. Wash your hands. Wear a mask.