Every week PJ Parenting writers weigh in on parenting issues large and small and you have the opportunity to share your insights in the comments section below. We’d love it if you’d join us for a cup of coffee and some great conversation!
Question: This week our talented — and very passionate — writers discussed vaccinations. In addition to the for/against debate, you’ll also find some great advice for handling vaccination day, which can sometimes be harder on the parents than the children.
[Editor’s note: One contributor asked to remain anonymous. Because this is an issue that involves minor children and a family’s medical decisions, we agreed to respect the family’s privacy.]
Susan L.M. Goldberg: How do you get through the torture of getting your baby vaccinated? We’re going for our 2-month today… five vac’s total, two shots and an oral. Sure, we want our kid vaccinated…that’s not the question…it’s watching your kid get shots and helping him to cope afterwards. My heart just breaks for the little guy. And I can’t be down about it, because he’ll sense that and be all the more miserable. So, how did you get through the torture of the needle?
[See Susan’s article: How This Mommy Handled the Pain of Vaccinations]
Grace L. Williams: I never mastered this one. One visit, they had to vaccinate AND draw blood at the same time. My son James was essentially limp and lifeless at the end while I was sweaty and panicked. As he’s gotten older, lollipops have helped.
[See Grace’s article: To Bribe or Not to Bribe: That is the Question]
Brianna Sharbaugh: We just so happened to schedule an evening appointment once and we saw that it really helped for our son to be able to take some Tylenol and sleep it off. I also grew up with a family policy of ice cream after shots. This applies to mommas who just held down their babies for shots, too. Treat yourself to some ice cream on the way home. (I’ve found that ice cream is a great motivator for nearly everything in my life.) The baby shots part is NO FUN, but a treat afterwards is at least something to look forward to.
Tricia Lott Williford: I have one rule: I will not restrain my child for them. My hands are for nurturing and loving them, and if any restraining is involved I ask them to bring in another nurse. I will hold his hand, but I will not hold him down. I’ll hold him when it’s all over, when there’s nothing left but the comforting.
Anonymous: My thoughts have to be expressed anonymously because of the hatred and attacks directed at parents who exercise their right to not vaccinate or to stretch out the schedule. After my niece suffered seizures and permanent brain damage immediately after being given a Hep B vaccine, we have opted out. Her subsequent struggles and care have made it clear to me that the chicken pox or measles or mumps are preferable to the kind of torture her life has become. This is not ever something I choose to write about because the persecution of people who opt out is too much to take. No one believes in individual choice anymore.
Bethany Mandel: My aunt died from the chicken pox she caught from her son. The chances of complications, statistically, from vaccines are far smaller than that of complications of catching the disease they prevent.
Jamie Wilson: I have one child who’s autistic and, even though his condition is relatively mild, it has been a struggle. When my girls came along, it was right in the middle of the controversy over whether or not autism can be triggered by vaccinations. Since I did not want to take the chance of this with my girls, and since I was going to be a stay-at-home mom anyway, I chose not to vaccinate right away. I reasoned that with my girls staying home instead of mixed into a population of other kids, the risk of them catching a disease was extremely low. I think that so far, they’ve caught maybe a couple of colds — and that’s in their entire lives.Today I deal with it using iPads to distract, then later rewarding their courage with hugs, lots of love and praise, and an ice cream treat. I also make sure they understand WHY they need shots and what used to happen to little children before modern immunizations; understanding that the doctors aren’t just being mean helps them a lot. The catch-up shots suck, but then so do regular shots.My sons were vaccinated at an earlier age, and for them, I brought Tylenol with me as well as favorite toys, using the Tylenol right away if necessary. And, to be honest, I played the brothers off against one another, telling the younger one that I was sure he could be braver than his older brother, then pointing out HIS courage to the older brother. Make that sibling rivalry and desire to be masculine work for you!
Anonymous: Statistically, we have already been hit, so telling me the risk is worth it doesn’t work. We’ve already sacrificed one to the vaccine pushers. I’m not giving them anymore to experiment on. But this is why I don’t go public about it. No one understands unless one of your children has been hurt by a vaccine. Everyone else whose children are fine think you’re a dangerous nutjob. But those of us who have watched it happen, who have seen the bills no vaccine company will ever have to pay, who have seen the pain and struggle our children now face along with the social ostracism and heartbreak…we simply can’t be consoled by any amount of “well the risk is low” argument. It’s a free country and I’ll be damned if there ever comes a time when I put my own children’s health and safety in second place for the health and safety of anyone else. It smacks of communism to me….for the good of all at the detriment of an individual. No thanks. I’ll keep my individual rights. No government on earth should have the right to force a needle in your arm.
Grace L. Williams: My mother allowed everything up to booster shots and then opted out after that. We had an old ass barn where I grew up, so any time a nail went thru a foot, it was shot time. When it was time to vaccinate our son, the pediatrician outlined our options and rights and we decided that we’d vaccinate since he’d be in a setting with other children. If he was home with just me, I’d probably dial it down while he’s so young as well–but I’d still fully vaccinate by kindergarten.
Bethany Mandel: I trust my pediatrician to treat every other disease. I trust them to know what vaccines are needed when. I’ve seen all of these diseases in the Third World. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if my kid got them–and gave them to others–because I was afraid of something that has been proven time and again to be safe for the overwhelming majority of people and has never been linked to the onset of autism or any other disease.
Julie Gunlock: Although none of my children have had any side effects from vaccinations, I do know people with sick children who are unable to get vaccinated who are terrified that their child will contract a disease because fewer people are vaccinating. My heart breaks for these parents whose children could die from exposure to these diseases (like measles). Where is the concern for these kids and others who can’t be vaccinated due to age, allergies or other health risks? And while you might think measles isn’t a big deal, the disease kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. It’s a terrifying disease. So yes, I vaccinate fully. I trust my docs. I help the nurses hold them down. And I always cry.
Julie Prince: I always let the doctor tell them the day of the appointment if they are getting shots or not. It always helped for me to hold them and let them put their arms around me. They would cry a little, but I always packed a “cold pack” ahead of time. Most of the time they were so preoccupied playing with the cold pack, they recovered from crying quickly. Then it was stickers galore!!
Grace L. Williams: I think with all things, it’s not for me to judge anyone else’s decision. I’ve purposefully avoided the culture of cures and causes regarding my son’s autism because it’s too negative, draining and time consuming, whereas I’ve found the neurodiversity/empowerment community to be equally as time consuming but far less draining since the message is more hopeful. It’s important for everyone to feel that they are in a safe space regarding their truth about parenting and I appreciate all viewpoints here regardless of whether or not they align with mine.
Susan L.M. Goldberg: Thanks for all the encouragement, opinions and advice! The little guy was a trooper…now he’s sleeping it off in his car seat. First time he hasn’t napped on me in weeks. I’m getting so much done!!
Let us know what you think about this controversial topic in the comments section below.