A mom’s perspective on immunizations
I’m just a mom. I’m just an ordinary woman with an extraordinary love.
I have been given the most precious gifts imaginable – a healthy 2-year-old son and I’m 35 weeks pregnant with a baby girl. Loving my children is as natural as breathing. My willingness to do anything necessary to protect them from harm is an instinct. I try so hard to keep my children safe in this uncertain world. I put my son to sleep on his back as a baby. I drive a long way to be sure he’s seeing the best pediatrician. I installed baby gates and covered electrical outlets. I make sure my son wears a helmet when riding his tricycle and the list goes on.
Despite my best efforts, my son still falls or puts things in his mouth that he shouldn’t. He still gets sick from time to time and this breaks my heart. I have spent a few memorable nights awake changing sheets from a GI bug, or rocking a feverish baby because the only place he could rest was in my arms. It was in these moments that I was the most thankful for my access to modern health care and life-saving immunizations.
I have the peace of knowing when my son falls ill, that by following my pediatrician’s recommended immunization schedule, I have protected him from the majority of diseases that could threaten his life or well-being. I cannot protect my children from everything, but I do have the peace of knowing that I have done what I can to protect them from disease.
In pregnancy, we think about avoiding alcohol and forbidden food and medications, but I think it often escapes us that there is something we can do during pregnancy to have a lasting effect on the health of our babies.
Immunizations during pregnancy can be life-saving, but often fall by the wayside because moms don’t realize how important they are. I got my flu shot a couple of weeks ago because I know how devastating the flu can be to a pregnant woman, plus my baby will be born during flu season and I want to protect her in every way I can.
There is evidence that the Tdap vaccine, if administered between 24-37 weeks gestation can actually provide antibody protection to my baby against pertussis. This is hugely important to me because a whooping cough infection in my newborn could be fatal! I have seen the websites and Facebook pages posted by parents who are against vaccinations. I understand a parent’s motivation to avoid potentially damaging medical intervention for their children. The stories that some of these advocates present are meant to cause fear. But I can find very little research that validates their position. I refuse to be swayed by fear-based arguments.
I have made a point in my life not to allow my actions to be based on fear. When weighing important medical decisions for my family I seek out data based on quality research. I also have a small circle of advisors that I believe in and trust to direct me in my decision making. I choose not to base my vaccination choices on anecdotal evidence or frightening personal stories because extensive research has consistently proven vaccines to be safe and effective.
After birth, while my daughter’s immune system is immature, she will rely on me for protection from disease. I am dedicated to surrounding her with people that will not only love and care for her but are also vaccinated from the diseases that could potentially harm her.
I want to protect my family in every way I can. I am just a mom and this is what I do to protect my family.
By Casey Edwards
Casey is a stay at home mom and her family sees Jenica Rose-Stine, M.D., a Cook Children’s pediatrician.