People’s attitudes to vaccinations never fail to amaze me.
Tom went for his second MMR jab yesterday and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t overtaken with feelings of trepidation and anxiety for most of the day. Although the benefits hugely outweigh the risk this is nevertheless my own flesh and blood I’m talking about – not a faceless statistic – and the fears, no matter how small, become magnified by emotion.
The nurse told us that he could become “grouchy” over the next 72 hours (give him Calpol), he may develop a measles rash in 5 days time (give him Calpol) and in ten days time he may develop a rubella rash (great, just in time for Christmas – give him Calpol). Or he may have no reaction at all.
Hmm. On the whole it’s not a great prospect for the Christmas holidays but so much better than the alternative.
I had measles when I was 7 and it knocked me off my feet – quite literally – for 3 weeks. I couldn’t stand up unaided. I spent 7 days unconscious. It’s a truly horrible disease and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone let alone my 14 month old son. If I can beef up his resistance to such a nasty disease I’ll do it and very gladly.
But weirdly one of Karen’s friends is dead set against giving her kids any kind of immunization and has already said that she’d prefer her son to catch the actual measles disease and develop immunity the “natural way”. She thinks that, if properly managed, measles is easy to cope with and easy to nurse.
Karen and I were, if we’re honest, horrified.
People seem to forget or just be in pure ignorance of the fact that measles is a killer. They seem to be unaware of just how much infant mortality rates have dropped in the West because of immunization programmes over the last 100 years. Our kids enjoy the luxury – and it is a luxury – of good health and a relatively disease free existence because of organized inoculations. Fact. Without them I dread to think how may of our kids wouldn’t make it all the way to adulthood.
I realize there’s been lots of bad press and misinformation regarding the MMR jab but, really, the right information is all around and easy to come across if you look for it. It’s not difficult to make an informed decision.
But there’s the rub. This person thinks they are making an informed decision. And at the end of the day the decision is hers to make. I must add that this person is a fantastic mother – very forward thinking and not at all locked into an idea of mediaeval parenthood – but her stance regarding vaccination puzzles and troubles me.
If you have a choice between giving your kid a mild, carefully controlled dose of a disease to build up their immune system or giving them the full-blown, potentially fatal version of the disease to do the same isn’t it logical and far saner to go for the mild version? The end result is identical if all goes well but the two journeys could be vastly different.
You also, of course, run the risk of infecting other children by letting them develop the full blown version of measles – a factor that is completely eliminated with the jab. Another plus in its favour.
So surely there’s no real decision to make?
Sometimes it’s right that science interferes with and combats nature. The glamour of being a Luddite must surely fade when you’ve got a priest standing above you reading the last rites...