An acquaintance of mine, who just so happens to be pregnant, recently told me that she and her husband have decided not to vaccinate their child once he or she is born. Beyond the vaccine-autism link that seems to keep rearing its head, causing a growing number of parents to question whether vaccines are in fact entirely “safe”, she expressed that it is her belief that vaccination may not even be all that helpful.
Indeed, over the course of the past few months, we’ve discovered that this year’s flu vaccine did little to combat the strain that caused flu diagnoses throughout the country, or to prevent the 2006 mumps outbreak in the Midwest . There are, also, of course, risks from vaccination, as with all medical treatments. These range from swelling, soreness, fever and aches, to allergic reactions and, in rare instances, even death. Still, only as little as 1 percent of U.S. children have parents who refuse vaccination in this day and age, and there seems to be little information about the consequences of this decision.
Saying “No” isn’t that simple… Or is it?
One thing I am sure of is that just saying no to vaccination certainly can’t be as simple as… just saying no. Not only do public school systems have immunization requirements — which can be exempted through an arduous process in which the parent or caregiver provides religious or medical reasons for withholding vaccination — but parents are also likely to face discrimination from others in the community, and even from the child’s pediatrician.
A 2005 study by Chicago’s Rush Medical College said that over a third of pediatricians will even go so far as to refuse treatment on children who have not been vaccinated. Many doctors, on the other hand, have learned to better deal with parents who fear the worst from vaccinations, by referring to statistics and medical research — the majority of which points to the benefits of vaccination. Studies are also being conducted by the medical community to come up with better approaches for dealing with parental refusal. Here is an excerpt from that study:
A team of pediatricians from three major Chicago medical centers surveyed more than 300 of their colleagues around the country about their attitudes toward vaccine refusal. Slightly more than half of pediatricians said that in the previous year they had encountered at least one family that refused all vaccines, while 85 percent said they’d had a parent turn down at least one shot.
Feuding Over Vaccines By Sandra G. Boodman – The Washington Post
This left me wondering just how long and hard the road, that lies ahead, really is for those who refuse vacation for their children. I’d love to hear from other parents who’ve been in this situation, and hear how it’s affected your family over time. For those of you with opinions on the matter, I’d appreciate your thoughts as well.
Adrienne writes for special-interest magazines and has worked on the production of women’s lifestyle channels at AOL as well as at E! Entertainment Television. She graduated from CUNY Baruch, where she served as the editor-in-chief of the award-winning student newspaper The Ticker.