Vaccinations – Are you really informed?

Today marks a huge leap forward for saving lives against malaria with the release of a vaccine. The Malaria vaccine isn’t something that is a gamechanger for us as our risks are low unless we go traveling. For parents in Africa, it will be a different story. We have established vaccination routines to protect from what once were very common and damaging diseases. The takeup of these vaccinations has fallen in recent years.

The diseases we routinely vaccinate against aren’t seen in the same serious light as generations before because the cases have reduced significantly. This along with the vast amount of information online around vaccinations, parents are choosing not to vaccinate.

Making informed choices about vaccinations is important, it is a decision that impacts our children. With all the information out there, checking the source of the information is just as important when making that informed choice.

Not all that is written is backed up.

Fake news is a phrase we hear so much nowadays, but words can have a lasting impact even when they are later retracted or proven false. Some of these myths are spread and can be harmless. No damage is done if you believe the myth that the EU banned bendy bananas, which has been proven false.

Then there are statements published that sway opinion that can cause harm. When Andrew Wakefield published the study that linked MMR and Autism in the 90’s, it changed perceptions. It continues to still have an impact even though the study has been discredited. Thanks to publications like this, we have started to see increased outbreaks such as measles.

Vaccinating your child is a personal choice, people should be correctly informed about any procedure before going ahead. Equally, it is very important to look at the source of the information and the motivations behind the words. Just because it is out there to read up on doesn’t necessarily make it all true.

Vaccinations have helped reduce the cases of some life-altering or fatal diseases, you rarely hear of children being impacted by polio anymore. Improvements in sanitation and the routine vaccinations have helped dramatically reduce cases of these.

Some statements online about vaccinations.

Looking through articles online, there are re-occurring claims that vaccinations are offered only to make pharmaceutical companies money. While yes all businesses have to make money, there has to be justification for it being offered. If you take chickenpox, for example, there is a vaccine that can be given for this common disease but the NHS has looked at this and decided not to offer this routinely.

It is also true if you are vaccinated you still have the potential of contracting the diseases, but effects are generally milder then for those unvaccinated. This being true doesn’t mean that the vaccination is ineffective, in fact, you generally catch it with prolonged contact with someone who is not vaccinated or if you’re not fully vaccinated.

What choice I made when my child was vulnerable.

When J was born, so early and so vulnerable, his first vaccinations were due while he was still in the hospital. This prompted me to do even more research on the benefits vs the risks, speaking to health care providers and reading a number of papers. Yes, there were risks to vaccinations like any other procedure but the benefits outweighed risks even with him being so tiny. How could I live with myself if my child was harmed or died in something I could have prevented? I couldn’t.

If after reading credible information regarding vaccinations, you make an informed decision not to vaccinate, it is your choice but also allow other parents that are in contact with your child the same choice. Give them the opportunity to weigh up the risks, they could be going through treatment, have a compromised immune system or not able to be vaccinated. We all want to do the best to protect our children but it also goes beyond that, herd immunity is important. Protecting those who are at risk or can not be vaccinated.

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