The vaccine dilemma

From time to time you’ll hear that we’ve lost our connection to the foods we eat. That we no longer know what we’re sticking in our mouths; where it comes from, how it grows, and what it took to get a crop from the field to the table. We don’t disagree with those points. In fact we want to take it further, because it’s equally strange that we know very little about what we’re putting into our bodies when we’re presented with the choice to vaccinate.
It is even more poignant because this choice often affects the bodies of our children, from the very moment they enter this world. That little body – still developing – is so very vulnerable that new parents worry about the right baby foods, are they getting enough fruit, and when they’re older, not too much candy. But when it comes to vaccines, many parents shut down. Perhaps the subject is too terrifyingly complex. Maybe the social pressure to conform is too great. Maybe it’s too difficult to be critical of such a heavy subject, one in which so many put their faith.
The debate about vaccines is often held by two extremes: the very vocal opponents who cry foul and bloody murder, against the learned scientists who try to calm the irrational rumblings down. In our latest cover article of The Optimist we try to stay away from both those camps.
I have personally experienced how difficult it can be to walk the middle road. When my wife and I were expecting our first child we did extensive research into vaccinations. A tip from a friend proved to be golden: read and talk about vaccines well before you hold that little bundle of joy in your arms, otherwise your emotions will lead your thinking.
It wasn’t easy finding a path through the pros and cons. We thought some vaccines made sense, whereas others did not. We agreed early on that we’d want to start later because our child would be breastfed longer than average and would be home longer than most kids, a safe distance from daycare which can be a breeding ground of illness.
The authorities on health suggest that vaccines are mandatory. They’re not. How you deal with that freedom of choice is up to the parents. With the latest issue of The Optimist we hope to offer some guidance into making those choices.  
Photo: Flickr/ Surlygirl
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