What’s Behind Door #3? Parenting Beyond the Yes or No to Vaccination Issue

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Brooke Dilling | @brookefrances

Do you vaccinate? It’s a question loaded with judgment. And a question hard for some to answer. The ongoing debates, the emotional connection, and the back and forth arguments leave a lot of information to evaluate and organize. Add to the struggle everyone from Grandma to “super-mom” down the street has an opinion on vaccines and is eager to share it and you get a sharknado of a parenting issue.

I remember feeling overwhelmed as I researched vaccines and options for my two young boys. The debate and the research I sifted through when my boys were little seemed to be of little help: Open door #1 and you read and hear it is irresponsible to not vaccinate your children. It is dangerous to leave them unprotected from diseases and a danger to others as well. Parents that choose not to vaccinate are putting their child’s health at risk.

On the other side of door #2 you hear vaccines, or the preservatives in vaccines (like mercury and aluminum), are toxic to children. The prescribed vaccine schedule for infants has multiple shots and vaccines at every visit and could be harmful to kids. Parents that choose to vaccinate are putting their child’s health at risk.

I remember feeling stressed and pressured and like any decision was a path to some inevitable disease, deformity, or long-term harm. Keeping the baby alive in general was a scary enough endeavor at the time. Now this?!

It was in the middle of my stress I learned about another option. A modified vaccine schedule. A modified schedule may mean giving your child some vaccines but opting out of others.  It may mean asking the doctor to order a specific brand of shot with a more infant-friendly preservative. Or a modified schedule may mean you choose to ensure your child is vaccinated for everything the doctor recommends, but at a slower pace. This last option is what I chose for my sons. I worked with their pediatrician, who understood my concerns and was willing to be flexible. We agreed  to stretch out my kids’ shot schedule to 18-24 months instead of the standard twelve . For the first few months, we went in to the pediatrician’s office every month. One month we saw the doc for a regularly scheduled visit, and the alternate month we met with a nurse to catch up on shots.

This option worked for us. I had more control over the vaccination process and felt less anxiety about the issue. This may not work for every parent, but the overall lesson--to explore alternative or hybrid paths to polarizing parenting issues, whether the question is about health care, screen time, or the merits of time out--is a good reminder for us moms. Of course, talk to your pediatrician about how to address your concerns and what works best for your family, but don’t forget to create your own Door #3.

Recommended reading:

The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears

The Vaccine-Friendly Plan by Paul Thomas, M.D. and Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.


 

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