Sometimes when I talk about the topic of Vaccinations I feel like I am being sucked into a dark and stormy vortex.
Only after my own children were born did I truly ask myself the questions many loving parents do “Is this safe?”. I had to face my own attitude about immunisation, the concept of herd immunity, my trust in the medical and pharmaceutical industry. I never “googled” for information. I never asked family members. I wanted to know real and honest facts and answers to my questions. These answers were not plucked from the AVN. I was a new mum. Emotions were raw. I was learning how to create a new ‘normal’ in my life. Amid my anxiety and confusion I visited a couple of Doctors in a bid for them to convince me. To assure me that this was the right thing to do, and that my child would be ok. To be frank, I did not want my training as a Naturopath or Alternative Therapist to dictate an attitude based on left-wing ideals. What I mean by that is that I was not going to NOT vaccinate just because I was a Naturopath IF I thought, felt or believed Vaccinating was the right thing to do.
Unfortunately I was one of those genuinely concerned, educated, and loving parents who found themselves sitting in a Doctor’s office with a Doctor who had their own personal “attitude” about people who questioned Childhood Immunisation. My husband and I sat in her office holding our tiny baby openly asking about her opinion and reassurance and she literally scolded us, closed our file, turned away and ignored us. We were gobsmacked. Insulted. And we had no choice but to leave the room without as much of a goodbye.
This was our initial medical experience. Obviously we did not return to this Doctor, and instead found a medical doctor who gave us time, understanding and offered no judgment about our questioning. This was crucial. He gained our trust. This is what I believe the medical industry must consider when tackling the reasons why parents are walking away from vaccinating their babies/children. Parents are not imbeciles. Making major decisions about the safety and wellbeing of our children requires more than a standard 7 minute Doctors appointment. It takes months, hours and much deliberation and reassurance.
So as a parent of unvaccinated children, I stand by my choice. I am mindful of their health and disinterested in the media’s and in particular certain social media commentators opinion of who I am (read Mama Mia).
And because I do not wish to be judged as a cruel and selfish mother, I keep my choices mostly private. As a non-vaxer – it can be a wild world of commentary out there. In the same vein I do not judge parents who choose to Vaccinate. I believe this is where some of the extreme emotion comes from. It is okay for the minority to feel a little victimised by media and society, but we forget what implications this has on the loving parents who believe vaccinating their children is safe, right and responsible.
Perhaps these parents feel that the reasons why we did NOT vaccinate devalues and challenges the reasons why they DID; Perhaps they feel tarnished by the same stigma of mindlessly vaccinating in the same way Non-vaxers are blamed for mindlessly not vaccinating. This is valid. It creates a huge divide because we are all trying to do the right thing and want to defend our rights and reasons in doing so. I hope we can someday find the medium ground. A place where all parents are considered with love and respect over this issue. For this to happen, media and social commentary needs to stop. These are opinions only and serve to fuel anger and our mistrust of each other.
Parenting is not easy, and not always fun but it is precious and we are in it together. Spare a thought from both sides of the fence next time your emotions get the better of you over this issue. Try to break down the barriers of judgment and conditioned ideas about who these people are on either side of the fence. See both sides from a point of understanding and respect. See the parent first. The individual. The love and care they feel for their children.
And remember: “Parenthood is part joy, and part guerilla warfare” How very true!