Disclosure: I’ve partnered with I Vaccinate to share my story and this content is sponsored by I Vaccinate.
Last week, I took my daughter to visit our family doctor so that she could get the sports physical necessary for a high school tryout. At the end of her exam, he said, with mock sadness, “I’m afraid I don’t have any vaccinations to give you this time.”
She exhaled with relief and smiled broadly.
“But next time, when you’re 16, we can do the meningitis vaccine,” he followed up.
Her face fell, but mine lit up.
“One of my favorites!” I exclaimed.
It really is one of my favorites because the vaccine was not available when I was a teen headed off to college. I later contracted meningitis. It was terrifying. I am beyond thrilled and thankful that there is a vaccine that will help protect my daughter from it and spare her from that awful and life-threatening experience.
Much of my volunteer work is with Shot@Life, which focuses on getting vaccines to children under age five in developing nations so they can grow up healthy and thrive.
Similarly, my work as the mom of a child in America focuses on making sure she has what she needs to grow up healthy and thrive. I vaccinate because it is one of the safest and most effective actions I can take to protect her.
Vaccines today have fewer antigens but offer more protection than they did in 1980.
Currently, the United States has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. To quote Hamilton, the musical that my daughter and I both adore, “How lucky we are to be alive right now!”
While we are fortunate to have such a great vaccine supply, it’s imperative that we not let down our guard as parents. Although we don’t always see the diseases we vaccinate our children against, they have not disappeared.
I remember the time my infant received her first vaccines. As a new and exhausted mom, I had a lot of questions, all of which the pediatrician patiently answered. Then he said, “I have volunteered in clinics around the world and I have seen children suffering from each of these diseases. I want your daughter to be as healthy as possible, just like you do. I assure you, you are doing the right thing by getting her these immunizations.”
That reassurance was very valuable to me. I’ve thought back on that conversation nearly every time my daughter has received another vaccine. With doctors we’ve seen since, we carry on a conversation about vaccines. I’m not afraid to ask the doctor’s opinion, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have doctors who are willing to talk openly with me, often as parents themselves and the choices they’ve made for their children. I’m very grateful for the partnerships I’ve had with my child’s health care providers.
Of course, like the vast majority of parents, I don’t have a medical degree or training in immunology. But as parents, we do have helpful tools at our disposal, including access to evidence-based resources, such as I Vaccinate. I Vaccinate began as a way to provide information based on real medical science and research to help Michigan parents protect their kids. (Pro tip: Science and research works well for parents in any state, not just Michigan.)
There are also resources like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC website. There’s a lot of info on the web, make sure that the info you’re getting in sound and based in fact. Science, friends.
Not all parents cheer in the doctor’s office when talking about vaccines like I do. (I know I’m a little wacky sometimes.) But it’s important to know a vast number of parents choose to protect their child through vaccination.
Among my friends in real life and on the internet, vaccines are a topic that many people avoid like, well, like a communicable disease, ironically enough. That can make choices about vaccines feel isolating and scary. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to share our experiences with vaccinations and why I vaccinate my teen in this post. Something that is safe and effective for our kids shouldn’t be taboo.
Talking with friends with daughters who have gotten the HPV vaccine and knowing they had no problems made me feel a bit better, and sharing that my daughter had no adverse reactions with her immunizations brought other parents peace of mind, too.
Please don’t feel like that means you have to discuss the topic. You don’t. But if you want to do so, it’s helpful to know that there are people out there who can offer reassurance, support and the some of the most powerful phrases in English for moms, which I think are “Me, too” and “We did that and we’re glad. It worked out just fine.”
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