This is quite a controversial topic, so just keep in mind that these are my opinions and I have the right to have them and you have the right to have your own.
I took Jake to get his 3 month immunisations today. A few weeks late because it took me a few weeks to make the phone call to book him in, and it didn’t help that the first time I finally made the call they stuck me on hold for longer than I was prepared to wait. It is hard to make an appointment to go and inflict pain on your child.
So why do it? I believe one of my friends isn’t, and there’s people in my online group intentionally putting it off until they believe their child is ready. With us there wasn’t even a conversation about it except for whether we were willing to pay to get the TB immunisation as well, but we weren’t, and if it wasn’t free perhaps we wouldn’t do it at all, but that’s an issue for a me in an alternate universe to contend with, not this me.
I read once (I can’t remember where) a compelling arguement that you are not only immunising for your child’s sake, but also for your community’s sake. If everyone was immunised then the threat would be eradicated, or something like that. But of course, when you’re inflicting this on someone that can’t understand what’s happening, can’t voice an opinion, and can’t see how a little pain now could protect them from greater pain or even death in the future, then you start questioning why you’re doing this and is it really the right decision.
My personal experiences with immunisations: I remember we got them at school, I don’t remember the pain. I remember I got the tetanus shot when I managed to hack my hand with a tomahawk, but again I don’t remember the pain part. So I don’t believe I’m harming Jake mentally by having him immunised.
When I was nineteen there was a big fuss over meningitis, and vaccinations became free for under 20s so I was nudged to go get it. Three injections were required. I thought, hey, it’s free, why not? The first shot near paralysed my left arm from pain, and I was working in a job that needed two hands. I couldn’t bring myself to get the other two injections; I had to work, and I didn’t see it as a real enough risk.
When I was in my third trimester I was offered the swine flu vaccination. Despite the real possible threat to my baby I weighed up the options and got it because it had the potential to protect him without him directly taking the pain. Not to mention I hate getting the flu, and if I can protect myself from a big one for free that’s gotta be good right. It didn’t really hurt that much either, though I couldn’t know the pain factor for the decision making part. And I believe it paid off. Hubby was really crook, Jake and I didn’t get it; I believe he had swine flu.
Of course there’s the miniscule risk that it could all go very badly. My cousin’s ex-flatmate is in a wheelchair because things went terribly wrong. But I believe there is greater risk in not getting them.
And then there is the people that opt to not get their children immunised (because it’s not mandatory here in NZ). Are they letting the whole country down? Some say they are, but I don’t believe so. If everyone was immunised then noone would get the illnesses and we would slip into a false sense of security: we’d come to believe the illnesses didn’t exist anymore. Odds are the immunisations stop being government funded. Then we’d get epidemics, or even pandemics, of old illnesses rather than new ones.
In NZ it would happen quickly. It happened in Palmy a few years back. Someone at Boys High contracted TB, suddenly the whole city was at risk, after all, if Boys High has it, so does Girls High, and it’s all two degrees of separation in NZ so really there was a potential of an epidemic. I was informed that TB wasn’t a major issue in NZ and so it’s not a government funded immunisation, but seriously, we have a possum problem, thus we have a TB problem (no offense Aussies, we love the possums that are in their own country 🙂 )
And so immunisations come and go. The meningitis one they were pushing is now not included in general immunisations, but this year whooping cough is a predicted epidemic so it’s included. And around it goes. Basically, there needs to be people getting sick to make the government fork out the money to protect the population. Yes, I feel for the children that don’t get immunised and then get sick, but sadly it’s for the greater good.
More than that though, I feel for the nurses who have to stick needles in screaming babies. I only have to deal with Jake screaming, they have to do it all the time, they’re the ones inflicting the pain and every time they must also have that same fear we do: What if something goes wrong?