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I am the mother of a two-year-old girl and a nine-month-old girl.

My pregnancy with my youngest was unexpected and filled with worry. I nearly suffered a miscarriage during the first trimester. At our 20 week ultrasound we were told Claire had an enlarged kidney, a marker for Down Syndrome. When Claire was born, she seemed like a big, healthy baby. But within an hour of her birth, we learned she had dangerously low blood sugar. The next day we discovered she had a severe tongue tie. I desperately wanted to breastfeed, and no one at the hospital would help us. It was the day before Christmas, and we were sent home. We were off to a rocky start.

After Claire was born I began suffering from a serious case of postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. One of the few places that I found support was in a breastfeeding support group. While I valued that support, the group soon became about much more than nursing. They began pushing Attachment Parenting, whose tenets, at least in this group, included being anti-vaccine. As it was, I was hyper-nervous about doing anything else that might hurt my poor baby, and so I was an easy target.

On Facebook, I read stories of moms whose children were “vaccine injured.” I saw articles posted about the “poisons” in vaccines. My mind swirled with the possible dangers lurking for my baby. The mothers in the breastfeeding group then recommended I read the Dr. Sears Vaccine Book, and I was trapped. Even my lactation consultant gave me a photocopy of the Dr. Sears alternative vaccine schedule. To top it off, our pediatrician said very casually “let me know if you want to make any changes to the vaccine schedule.”

Jessica Bishop and her childrenDeep down I was very uncomfortable with the idea of NOT vaccinating my children (and thankfully my husband is very pro-vax), but the Sears schedule seemed like the perfect compromise. Using the Sears schedule, and with the help of our pediatrician, I came up with a delayed schedule for Claire. My pediatrician even told me that I could forgo the Rotavirus vaccine entirely–but we opted for it. At the time, this delayed schedule made me feel better in light of everything I had heard and what I had read in the Dr. Sears book. But, ultimately all this delayed / changed schedule did was confuse me about what vaccines my daughter still needed and when. More important, the delayed schedule put her at risk.

I know now the only thing I compromised by using the Sears schedule was my baby’s health. I left her vulnerable to life-altering and dangerous diseases like pertussis, based on nothing but hysteria and lies. I began getting Claire caught up on her vaccines. She just turned 10 months old and is about to get her second dose of flu vaccine. She is now up to date on her immunizations, and at her 12-month appointment, she will receive all the recommended shots including MMR and chickenpox. Going forward we will be following the recommended childhood vaccination schedule, no delays or changes.

I can see now that with all the upsetting events happening in our life, I was a perfect target for the Dr. Sears / anti-vax agenda. I encourage parents to read research from trusted, evidence-based, medical sources before making health care decisions for their children.

Vaccines save lives.

Jessica Bishop lives with her husband and daughters in Chicago. She has a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education.
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