When my older kids were born there was talk about vaccines possibly causing autism. We asked the pediatrician to explain the risks to us. He was very soft-spoken and an extremely logic-oriented person who gently pointed us to studies showing there was no possible link between vaccines and autism.
He gave us the statistics regarding the chance that our kids would have a bad reaction to getting vaccinated. It seemed like the risk was fairly small.
Years later, I'm back in a pediatrician's office with a one-year-old baby, faced with giving him is first live vaccines. He might get a little sick from these in 7 to 10 days.
Two weeks after he got these vaccines he did get sick with a high fever and it was really scary. The Dr. said it was probably from a virus and unrelated to the recent vaccines because the timing was wrong. Plus his little throat was very red. And really, we had just brought him to the California Science Museum where he certainly put every germ imaginable in his mouth.
The difference between back then and now is that enough people have stopped vaccinating their kids that eradicated diseases are coming back. I just read there is a whooping cough epidemic here where I live. And Jacob's pediatrician had to take a stand on this matter - he will not take patients who don't vaccinate.
I think about how I would feel if something terrible happened to my baby because of giving him a vaccine. I don't know how I would feel but I believe in the science behind herd immunity.
Especially after hearing this woman: http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/please-help-me-keep-my-children-healthy/. Her kids can't get vaccines. They rely on everyone else getting them to stay healthy.
It's really, really scary to give your baby shots. It's scary to make any choice that has an effect on your child's health.
We live in an interesting time too - on the cusp of understanding so much more about the human body and how it works than we have ever understood. So it is right to think that science isn't perfect and that the facts change.
But vaccinating your kids is something you can feel really good about because it has proven results and you are doing something for everyone, not just your kid.
Sadly, we know for sure what happens when enough people stop vaccinating. We see the come back of diseases that were simply gone.
I support my pediatrician for refusing patients who don't vaccinate and I believe that anyone who gets an MD should follow this model to ensure we all get back on track.