Parents need to recognize they have the right and responsibility to inform themselves about vaccines, to make the decisions that best work for their family, and to not be judged for their choices.
By Angela Bedingfield
My youngest son was born in late 1998. A joyous occasion paralleled with difficult decisions. Which diapers to buy, breast feeding versus bottle feeding, Graco or a different brand? I had done my homework on each of these important decisions, as well as many others; after all, conscientious prevailed as my middle name. At least, so I thought. It wasn’t until my son hit the five month mark that I realized the grave mistake made. My beautiful boy received his second round of vaccinations as suggested by the man in the white coat. No questions asked, it’s what you do. Right? Actually, I could not have been more wrong, and my son had the seizures to prove it. This horrific occurrence sent me on a path to find out all that I could about childhood inoculations, and the plentiful information gave pause and consideration on both sides of the topic. While the journey allowed me to make a decision as to whether or not to vaccinate, that is not what I wish to share. Instead, I want parents to recognize they have the right and responsibility to inform themselves about vaccines, to make the decisions that best work for their family, and to not be judged for their choices.
Before making a decision as to whether or not to vaccinate, parents need to read legitimate literature on both sides of the topic. Ignore personal or highly emotional accounts, such as the Jenny McCarthy collection, and instead devote research to accounts from well-known, well-respected sources. My investigation began with the book, Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective? by Neil Z. Miller. Although Miller openly opposes vaccinations, his book provides an extensive history of each vaccine from creation to present-day use. Many accounts originate from trials, studies and subsequent reports by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), The American Pediatric Academy (APP) and other governmental agencies. At the very least, the reference page offers parents a thorough list of additional places to locate valid information concerning vaccines.
In addition to published works, parents need to read the literature included in the vaccine container. What literature? Each inoculation vial contains a thorough list of who should not receive vaccinations, and the list is quite surprising! For example, the Measles vaccines should not be administered to anyone with a personal or family history of allergies to eggs, chicken, or feathers; and the DTP should not be administered to anyone born prematurely or with low birth weight. Since the majority of doctors do not offer this literature, parents should request the completed list before determining whether or not to vaccinate.
With the research complete, parents can then decide if they want to vaccinate as well as how they want to vaccinate. Of course the traditional schedule can be followed, or parents can tailor shot administration to meet their comfortability. For example, if following the research a parent has concerns regarding the age at which children receive vaccines, they can opt to wait until the child reaches a more appropriate age. In addition, parents can select single vaccines in place of the standard combination vaccines. Thus, eliminating the possibility of their child receiving seven different vaccinations in one appointment. Parents choosing not to vaccinate their children only need to follow the steps at the conclusion of the article to obtain an exemption based on reasons of conscience. This allows the child to attend any and all childcare facilities or schools in the state of Texas. The important thing to remember as the parent is you have the ultimate say so—not family, society or even doctors.
Again, my point in sharing this story does not come with an intention to tell parents whether or not to vaccinate—really quite the opposite. I want care-givers to recognize the power they hold to decide for themselves. Will you encounter opposing opinions whichever path you choose? Absolutely! Just recognize that people hold their own truths just as you hold yours. Remain solidified in your convictions and allow others to remain solidified in theirs. Through your example, we as parents can regain our right to make decisions for our children and families without the judgements and stigmas society often places.
How to Obtain an Exemption for Reasons of Conscience:
- Go to http://www.dshs.texas.gov/immunize/school/exemptions.aspx
- Click on Requesting an Exemption for Reasons of Conscience
- Within the section Obtaining an Affidavit, click the link Obtaining an Affidavit Online
- Complete the brief online affidavit (child’s name, birthday, mailing address and telephone number) and click submit
- The exemption form will arrive by mail within 2-3 weeks
- Complete the form (child’s information and undesired vaccines)
- Have the affidavit notarized
- Provide the school or child care with the notarized affidavit