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Memphis, TN
I am a critically minded person with a dual BS/BA degree. When I became pregnant, the first thing I did was hit the library. I read about the medicalization of birth and the risks of elective c-sections. I read cross-cultural anthropological studies of child-rearing. I discussed everything I could think of with critically minded family and friends who were studying to be midwives. After a few months I felt like I had a pretty good understanding about the "natural" way of doing things vs the institutional, profit-motivated "health care" that dominates our society. I attended my prenatal appointments and took my prenatal vitamins, but I refused unnecessary testing. I had a belly blessing ceremony. I took pregnancy dance classes and did prenatal yoga. Two doulas attended my natural birth. Still, even after I had my newborn, I felt like I was in the dark about vaccines. Everything I read only confused me more. I looked at adverse event reporting and read Dr. Sears' book on vaccines. Even with a background in biochemistry, I felt like I couldn't get a handle on the scientific evidence. Finally, I spoke to my cousin, who had a very similar approach to motherhood that I did. She said that she didn't have a great handle on it either but figured that the benefits to society outweighed the small risk to her own child. Her son had had his full course of vaccines with no ill effects. She also pointed out that going with an alternate vaccine schedule that spread out the same number of vaccines over more visits meant exposing your vulnerable child to the actual diseases in the waiting room that extra number of times. Even though I still believed that the consensus of the scientific community could be biased, I ultimately decided to vaccinate my son because it made sense for his health. I wasn't thrilled about some of the chemicals in vaccines, but I understood immunity. I decided that the small chance of severe or insidious side effects wasn't worth worrying about more than the hours I had already spent. A couple of years later, I enrolled in nursing school. I now more know about the evolution of vaccines and the diseases that they protect against. I know that vaccines protect the people who are vaccinated, the infants they contact who have weak immune systems, and any immuno-compromised or unvaccinated person the vaccinated person encounters. I know that vaccines are overwhelmingly safe. I am so glad that I decided to vaccinate my child. At the time, it was one less thing to worry about and agonize over. Now I see it as a truly positive, proactive action to promote my child's health and my society's health. I am proud to have raised a healthy-eating, cloth-diapered, TV-free, and vaccinated baby who is now an abundantly healthy toddler.
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