On pertussis and vaccinations.
December 12, 2011

On Friday morning, I popped into the garage for a moment to run some laundry.  When I opened the door to the house half a minute later, I could hear Charlotte coughing.  She sounded like she was choking.  Like she couldn’t breathe.

MOMMA!, she said with a note of confusion as she wiped blood away from her mouth.  MY LIPS ARE COLORING MY HAND, MOMMA!

And that is when I called the pediatrician.

When we arrived at the doctor’s office, we were immediately ushered into an isolated waiting room.  I’m sorry about this, the nurse said as she closed the door behind her.  Precautions, you know.

I smiled and nodded.  If it were my kid in the waiting room, I’d want them to take precautions.  I understand, I told the nurse.  And I did.

The pediatrician came in and at first all he heard from Charlotte were short clusters of coughing.  Twenty, thirty, forty seconds.  Huh, he said.  It sounds like whooping cough, but she just isn’t fully whooping.  Maybe she has a croup virus and a small respiratory infection instead.

But when he moved to take her temperature, she began to cry.  And when she cried, the full whooping cough started.  It stretched on for an eternity, me clutching her to my breast, saying It’s okay, darling, it’s okay.  Just breathe.  Relax.  It’s okay.

OH SHIT, the doctor said.

He left the room and came back with a second opinion.  He approached Charlotte with the thermometer again.  Sorry mom, he said to me.  I just need her to cough.  And she did.  And when she coughed, she whooped.  The two doctors stood there for a minute, arms crossed against their chest, listening.  They watched as she coughed.  They watched as she retched.  They watched as I wiped blood off her hand, off her lips, as her eyes grew heavy while she suckled at my breast afterward for comfort.

We have to test to be sure, one said, but I’d bet my life on whooping cough.  The other nodded.  Definitely, he said.  Don’t worry about the blood, they reassured me.  When someone coughs that violently, it isn’t abnormal for their throat to be a little agitated.  But if it gets worse, let us know.

They poked a hole in my daughter’s skin and took her blood.  They tilted her head back and swabbed her nose.  They opened her mouth and swabbed her cheek.  They enclosed the swabs in slender plastic tubes and slapped stickers on the outside.  STAT, the stickers read.

It’s a good thing you’re still nursing her, the second pediatrician said.  Most adults who catch whooping cough never even know the difference.  It’s like a bad cold or maybe just a sore throat.  We can give her steroids or antibiotics, but right now you’re her healthiest line of defense.  The best thing you can do is to give her as much of your milk as you possibly can.

- - -

Charlotte is okay.  By Saturday morning, we’d made the house so warm and humid that our windows were dripping.  The humidity helped enormously to relieve her symptoms.  We gave her two baths, each ninety minutes long in steaming water with the wall heater running in the bathroom.

She slept for uncharacteristically long stretches and when she was awake we followed orders and engaged in calm activities to keep her from physically stressing her lungs.  We gave her chamomile tea and pulled a bird out of the freezer to boil down for chicken soup.  I nursed her seven or eight times each day and several times through the night.  Her fever broke sometime Saturday night.

On Sunday morning, I received an e-mail from a friend of ours whose unvaccinated child was positively diagnosed through a laboratory with whooping cough a week ago.

- - -

I usually consider myself a fair and level-headed person, if a little hot-headed and stubborn from time to time.  I try very hard to respect other peoples’ decisions, perspectives, and beliefs.  I want to give people the benefit of the doubt and I want to believe that most parents are loving people who make the best choices they can for their children.

But I am currently really struggling with this.  I vaccinated my child against pertussis and everything that we know at this point indicates that Charlotte, like at least one other of her relatives, is in a minority that is physically incapable of building a resistance to the disease.  The reasons that blanket inoculation is recommended for diseases like whooping cough are many, but one of them is this: children like Charlotte who cannot form an immunity to one specific disease or another CANNOT BE PROTECTED FROM THAT DISEASE unless other people do not transmit it to them.  Herd immunity keeps safe the small fraction of individuals who are too weak or young to receive vaccinations, who have negative reactions to a vaccine, or whose biology prevents them from building a resistance to a specific disease.

That woman?  I understand what she was going through when she decided not to immunize her child.  I understand how difficult it is to inject your child with a cocktail of toxins, preservatives, and antigens.  I understand that the current AAP vaccination schedule is terrifyingly aggressive and that it is impossible to know whether or not your child’s individual biochemistry is going to react poorly to some aspect or another of a vaccination.

I understand the worry that vaccinations in conjunction with other abuses of the medical establishment, such as over-prescription of drugs, might be contributing to weaker immune systems.  I understand how hard it is to make heads or tails of the pharmaceutical industry’s intentions and deeds.  I understand the concern that unnecessary vaccines do more harm than good.  I understand the frustration that vaccine standards aren’t higher, that vaccinations are not more widely studied and that the public has so little access to information about their composition and potential side effects.  I even understand the belief that shots are a violation of a child’s right to bodily integrity.

I UNDERSTAND.

And the thing is: I didn’t always feel the way I feel right now.  Up until this weekend, I really believed that every parent had to make the decision that worked best for their family.

But no matter how much I identify with the concerns of a parent who opts out of vaccinating their child, I am angry.

It occurs to me now, while I sit here listening to my child wheezing while she sleeps, that when that woman decided not to vaccinate her child she wasn’t making a decision that only affected her family.  She made a decision that affected mine.  She made a decision that may have long-term effects to my daughter’s health.

I am trying to understand, I really am.  I’m trying to remember that she made the decision she did because she loves her kid.  I’m trying to remember that her reasons for not vaccinating are as viable as my reasons for vaccinating - and I’m trying to bear in mind that I am not privy to the reasons why she made her decision.  I’m trying to remember that Charlotte would have still been susceptible to whooping cough regardless of whether or not this child was in our lives.  I’m trying to remember that this mother could not have known that her child would contract this disease.  I’m trying to remember that as fired up as I feel right now in favor of vaccination, I’d feel equally fired up against the pressure to vaccinate if my daughter were lying in bed enduring a severe negative reaction from a vaccine.  I’m trying not to place blame for something that, quite simply, happens.  I’m trying to remember that the reason I’m upset is probably ultimately because I want Charlotte to be healthy and not because I think everybody should conform to my choices.  I’m trying to remember that if I want people to respect my parental authority, then I need to respect theirs.

But at the end of the day, I keep coming back to this.  I am doing everything in my power to keep my child safe.  I don’t want to inject Charlotte or myself with crap, but I do it because I want to keep other at-risk individuals safe too.

And right now, I feel betrayed and more than a little disappointed that other people don’t feel that the health and safety of my child is as important as the health and safety of theirs.


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  1. By on December 12, 2011

    I could write a lot in response to this, but it would all just be basically reiterating what you’ve written. To me, this isn’t a matter of parental decision like deciding to breastfeed or co-sleep, because it affects so many others. And not just potentially - the mere fact that certain diseases continue to thrive is illustrative of the negative effects of refusing to vaccinate.
    I’m so sorry you’ve had to experience this with Charlotte, but very glad to hear she is getting better. I’ve been reading for a long time now, and just wanted to express my best wishes, and to say that I’m behind you one hundred percent on this matter.

  2. By on December 12, 2011

    First of all I want to say that on vaccinations, I mostly agree with you.
    However, I think it’s unfair to assume that the fact that she didn’t vaccinate means that she doesn’t care about other peoples children. The fact is she can’t make choices for Charlotte, or any child other than her own. Most likely she did what she thought was best for any child. My guess is, if she were handed some random child and asked to make the best vaccination decision for that child she wouldn’t have vaccinated it either. She probably made the decision she made because she thinks it’s the safest decision for anyone.
    Does it suck that your kid got sick because of her decision, yes. But it doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about Charlottes safety.
    Also (and this is just a question, no underlying accusatory tones, I know it reads that way, but it’s not my intention, I swears) if you knew the child was unvaccinated and you understand how communicable diseases work don’t you feel that you made the informed decision to expose Charlotte to this child and therefore all of their illnesses, or did you just not realize that there was a chance that Charlotte didn’t gain full immunity from one or more of the vaccinations she’d had? Did no one ever tell you there was a chance Charlotte could still contract those diseases?

  3. By Taryn on December 12, 2011

    Wow, what Charlotte (and you and Donald) are going through is really awful. And it totally makes sense for you to feel like a defensive mama bear.
    But as a parent who has chosen not to fully vaccinate my child, this post is bringing out the defensive mama bear in me too…
    One question to ponder: how come you’re not frustrated and angry that Charlotte go shot up with “a cocktail of toxins” and it did her no good? Doesn’t that kinda help to explain why some other parents would choose not to?

  4. By on December 12, 2011

    I’m so sorry that Charlotte has pertussis. As someone who works in public health (and a parent), I’ve always had a hard time truly understanding why people don’t vaccinate their kids. It’s definitely a risk-benefit issue, and I think people in our generation don’t really know how awful some of these diseases are. From a population perspective, vaccines are remarkably successful, and herd immunity is one of the major reasons. I hope that some parents reading your blog might decide to vaccinate their own kids to protect some of those who are more vulnerable.
    Many positive thoughts for a speedy recovery for little Charlotte!

  5. By on December 12, 2011

    poor little Charlotte. i am glad to read she’ll be ok. aw.

    i do believe basic vaccination is a right for children, and a necessity for the society. Respect and prevention have motivated me to vaccine my daughter as well as my concern for her own health.

  6. By on December 12, 2011

    Poor girl.  :(

    The whole vaccination thing is hard. It’s overwhelming how many thigns they try to prevent now vs. when I was younger. (I’m 32) That’s why I chose to do the Dr.Sears schedule. Most nurses and doctors don’t even know what it is so they have to look it up and then print out a copy for my children’s medical records. They get the same amount of shots, but they are spread out. My child(ren) has never gotten more than 2 shots at one time and I like that. If anyone wants to know more about it and/or the schedule then they can google “Dr. Sears vaccination schedule.“

  7. By on December 12, 2011

    This was beautifully written and well said. I am sending many healing thoughts to Charlotte and hugs to you and Donald.

  8. By Sarah on December 12, 2011

    you can’t help the way you feel. And when our babies are hurting, we want to be mad at someone. that makes sense. My kids are fully vaccinated. However, I have a friend who does not and I understand why. Her story makes sense to me. But it did terrify me that my youngest could get measles from her son if he came down with it. So, basically I understand both sides. And I am hoping your baby feels better soon. That must be terrifying

  9. By on December 12, 2011

    Im so sorry y’all are having to deal with this. My husband was just talking about this subject last weekend with my parents and we are in total agreement with you. We came to the conclusion that people don’t know or remember what these illnesses entail. My mom started telling us stories about seeing people in iron lungs when she was little. We’ve never had to encounter that.

    Taryn - she’s not fully immune to it because she still has one more round of DTAP to go when she’s older.

  10. By on December 12, 2011

    I’m bookmarking this post as a reference when I talk to people who aren’t vaccinating. Not to tell them they’re wrong, just to ask if they’ve thought of this angle.

    Very sorry for poor Charlotte. But another big yay for breastfeeding toddlers!

  11. By on December 12, 2011

    You may not want to say it, but I will. Unless there is a specific reason why her chiild can’t be vaccinated, then her reasons for not vaccinating are NOT as valid as yours.

    People who do this infuriate me. I have a friend whose child has a congenital heart defect, if he caught it he would likely die. At least Charlotte will be OK.

  12. By on December 12, 2011

    I’m so sorry your family is going through this! I’ve read your blog off and on for years, and for some reason felt compelled to say that I agree with you one hundred percent… in fact, you’re probably way more levelheaded than I would be. If you choose not to vaccinate your child, no matter how well-thought out and well-intended your decision may be, then you by default are putting other people at risk. There’s just no other way around it. That’s a choice everyone makes for themselves and their own family, and that’s fine, but the reality is that it’s not a choice for ONLY you and ONLY your family.

    In any case, I’ll be thinking of you and your sweet girl… that she feels better soon, that your friendship with this family won’t be negatively affected (so, so tough), and that you get all the information and care you need from her physicians.

    All the best!!!

  13. By on December 12, 2011

    I’m so sorry your family had to go through this.  I hope Charlotte feels much better soon!

  14. By on December 12, 2011

    Poor, Charlotte. I feel so sorry for you guys. I completely agree that vaccinating is a necessary part of living in a community. I hope she recovers quickly!

  15. By Christy / Thrifty Vintage Kitten on December 12, 2011

    Very well said, Momma. I completly agree. I vaccinate my daughter for her safety and others!

  16. By Amber on December 12, 2011

    I am bookmarking this and will show it to my husband & friends. I strongly believe in vaccinations for the sake of the WORLD’S public health!

  17. By tara pollard pakosta on December 12, 2011

    Poor Charlotte and poor you having to watch her go through this. I pray she will be okay ....so sorry this happened, that just SUCKS!

    tara

  18. By Laura on December 12, 2011

    Hi Sarah,
    Your post brought a flood of emotions and memories for me. When I was a kid several of my siblings came down with Pertussis, the youngest was 4months old. My parents had gotten some of us vaccinated(I was one) and after watching me go through a severe reaction to the vaccination as an infant they opted out on getting the younger children vaccinated. I know it was a very emotional and scary time for us because watching children so little struggling to breath is heartbreaking. I felt some guilt in it, knowing that I was a big part of the reason that they were going through what they were. All things said and done, I believe my parents wished they had vaccinated but it’s so much easier to see in hind-site. In both cases(with me and with my younger siblings) they were trying to prevent suffering and it just happened to bite them on both ends. Everything did end up fine, and everyone got completely well. They say it lasts 6months but it was 6months of steady improvement, not just 6 months of sickness. I just wanted to say that I know what you’re going through is hard. Stick in there.

  19. By on December 12, 2011

    Sheila:

    In some areas (including CA, I believe) vaccination rates are getting so low, it would be nearly impossible to avoid everyone who is unvaccinated without becoming a hermit.

  20. By on December 12, 2011

    I think since we all grew up with children who were vaccinated we are forgetting how serious diseases like whooping cough are. I fully support vaccinations and am wondering if your friend now wishes she gave them to her daughter, too. Even though vaccines can have mild side effects its nothing compared to what they can come down with if not vaccinated.  I think parents who chose to not vaccinate their children are relying on other children to be vaccinated, but now diseases like whooping cough are on the rise. I fully understand why you are angry.

  21. By Amelia Sprout on December 12, 2011

    I am frustrated that most people making the decisions about vaccination, things that impact more than their own families, grew up in a era of widespread vaccination.  These are people that don’t remember children and adults dying from things we now have vaccines for.  The fact that they benefit from other people’s vaccinations… well, it just makes me angry too. Widespread vaccinations keep infant who are too young for vaccinations safe.  It keeps people like Charlotte who they don’t work on safe… My mom was a non vacc person.  I wasn’t vaccinated until I was older.  I just can’t see things the way that she does.  Not having heard stories from my grandmothers about polio, and pertussis, and the measles.  I don’t have the ability to be civil about it, which is why I’ll end my comment now.  I hope she feels better soon.

  22. By Sarah Christensen on December 12, 2011

    Sheila - At least half, if not more, of people we know do not vaccinate their children.  The rates of positive vaccination in southern California are very low.  Even if we avoided people who do not vaccinate in our friendships, we cannot avoid them at libraries, parks, and the like.

    Taryn - As I mentioned, I am frustrated by vaccine standards not being higher.  I do wish that the cocktail of toxins had worked on Charlotte.  But the fact is that there is always going to be a small percentage of people who react poorly to vaccinations, who are too weak or too young to receive vaccinations, or who do not build up an effective immunity.  In this case, the problem isn’t the vaccine for Charlotte - it’s the disease.  She doesn’t build up a resistance TO THE DISEASE, and no amount of vaccinating or contracting pertussis is going to change that.

  23. By on December 12, 2011

    Amen my friend, amen. YAAAHH for breastfeeding toddlers and I hope Charlotte feels better soon!

  24. By Charity on December 12, 2011

    Couldn’t agree more.  NO ONE wants to watch their child get shots and have even the tiniest worry over what they contain, even after hours of researching.  BUT, it is VERY selfish and in my opinion immoral to only consider yourself in decisions like vaccinations.  We are too far removed from many of the horrible diseases that vaccines largely prevent now to have a proper perspective on the true risk/reward relationship. 

    I love your blog, don’t comment much, but I had a miscarriage at about the same time as you and I absolutely love your writing and parenting style.

    Speedy recovery to that little spit fire!

  25. By Mailis on December 12, 2011

    I am so glad Charlotte is feeling better, Sarah. And how are you coping? I imagine this is heart wrenching for you and Donald… :( Give Shatzi lots of hugs and kisses from Jude and I.

    We are a community. We have to think like a community. I vaccinated my child because I didn’t want him to contract a life threatening illness, and because the whole point of having everyone vaccinated is to get rid of these diseases altogether. I do not want to go back to measles and smallpox. Polio. Tuberculosis. There are already too many scary things out there to contend with.

    So, yeah. Totally with you, Sarah.

  26. By Tracy Roberts on December 12, 2011

    Yeah, big assumptions going on here Sarah and the most obvious one is that you know for sure your daughter got it from hers! 

    You know what the say about assuming and I am with Taryn, you should be equally pissed off that Charlotte did not get the supposed benefits of those injected toxins.

    Of course you will have a lot of people who agree with you on this one and frankly,  I think you sometimes write to get pats on the back.

    Your biggest and most frustrating assumption is that parents who do not vaccinate do not care about the health of others.
    Personally, that makes me want to say a bunch of things I will refrain from saying, but you get the idea.

  27. By on December 12, 2011

    Tracy why would she be writing a post to get pats on the back when her child is violently ill? Anyone who has read the blog knows she is a loving mother. She wrote her post acknowledging both sides of the vac debate yet you have no understanding of how you would feel if you were in her situation. She didn’t say Charlotte def got it from that person but that rates in her area are very low; it could have been any person in the library, a friend, etc. The increased risk her daughter faces is reasonably upsetting. She acknowledged she doesn’t like the chemicals in vaccines and wishes a whole host of problems with them would be remedied.

  28. By on December 12, 2011

    Oh Sarah. I hope she feels better soon and makes a full recovery. You are such a good mama.

    As for those who have posted negative responses on here: SHAME on you. This woman is dealing with a very sick child and had to see her child COUGHING UP BLOOD this weekend. Shame on you for choosing this time period to criticize her for being stunned that someone’s ignorance could have gotten her baby girl sick. Shame on you for not having TACT to draw up your criticism at a more appropriate time. Give this woman applause for being a concerned, attentive mother right now. You have a right to your opinions, but voicing them now makes you sound like rude, ignorant jackasses based upon your timing alone. Shame.

  29. By on December 12, 2011

    Well at the end the day Tracey they don’t care about others. They’re only thinking of how it effects them and their child. If they did care about others they wouldn’t, for a second not get their child inoculated.

    I am fearful for what we will see in years to come. I believe common diseases from long ago will come back due to parents not getting their children immunised. For example TB and Polio.

    And for you to think that she wrote that just for recognition from others is further testament to how wrong your opinion is. She is clearly expressing her thoughts at a very, very emotional time.

    When I have my children I think I’d like them to wholly stay away from un-immunized children. If they caught something from another child which could have been prevented and were seriously ill or died I would never, never forgive myself or the other parent for that matter.

  30. By on December 12, 2011

    Sarah, I understand so vividly what you’re going through. When Max was six months old, we learned that he had been exposed to pertussus by a child whose parents made the decision not to vaccinate. This child, a grandchild of a friend of my parents, died a few days later.

    I was terrified. Allthough we have vaccinated both of our children based on AAP recommendations (and being that my husband is a teacher, I work in social services, and we both suffer from chronic illnesses that leave us immunocompromised), I was instructed by the county health department to fully isolate my son for at least a week, preferably ten days, and encourage him to nurse as much as possible. I remember listening to him breathing in the middle of the night over the baby monitor, thinking about those parents who’d lost their daughter (after a monstrous battle with infertility), and while feeling so terrible for them, being equally furious that they’d been so quick to dismiss vaccinating.

    Poor Charlotte. I am really glad she’s okay. I honestly wish that there were more assurances in place for parents who don’t feel that vaccinations are safe, but there’s no such thing as safe in parenting. I am fully committed to vaccinating my kids, as I vastly prefer the devil I know to the devil I don’t. Also, I am a part of a community, and I believe that I have a responsiblity to this community to not only protect my own children but protect others as well.

    That said, I am not a fan of people who don’t choose to vaccinate. I think it’s irresponsible and inconsiderate. I’m all for people making their own choices for their own children—I’m not required to agree, however, and I will actively protect my child from anyone who I don’t think is making healthy choices for their child and endangering my own in the process.

    Tracy, I very much hope you NEVER experience the knowledge that your deeply loved and wanted child is desperately, critically ill due to your own inaction. Your hateful comment, however, is a pretty strong indication that your kids will be as intolerant of others’ views as you are, and probably as willing to be unkind to strangers as well. I hope it serves them better than it will almost assuredly serve you.

  31. By Molly on December 12, 2011

    I just cried and cried for Charlotte (and your mommy heart) while reading. I’m so sorry.
    I am also furious at the inconsideration of those who do not vaccinate. It makes me want to never leave the house!
    Love to you all!

  32. By on December 12, 2011

    Sarah I am so sorry to hear this.  I do just want to say that the pertussis virus is currently believed to be mutating around the current strain being provided in the vaccine and its actual rate of effectiveness overall has not been retested since the vaccines last overhaul in the early 90s.  Just as recent as September of this year Kaiser in California stated the vast majority of cases they saw were in fact in fully vaccinated individuals.  Perhaps we shouldn’t start blaming the supposed lack of herd immunity(less than 10% of kids aren’t being vaccinated) and start asking why the vaccine hasn’t be looked in and why we aren’t trying to keep up with the potential disease mutation. 

    I would personally like to see our country offer the pertussis vaccine as a SINGLE vaccine and not a combo.  I am sure it would make many of us feel better about giving it to our children and perhaps make a more effective vaccine.  I hope she recovers quickly.  I look forward to reading the post where all is well!!

  33. By on December 12, 2011

    Oh Sarah,

    I have been quietly reading and enjoying your blog for some time, and I am so sorry to hear that this has happened to you and your family… it is encouraging to hear that she is doing better now, but don’t hesitate to take her back to the doctor or emergency room is your gut tells you that things are worsening - TRUST your doctors yes, but also TRUST yourself and your instincts.

    Bless you and your daughter and may your precious girl continue to heal and strengthen each day.

  34. By on December 12, 2011

    YES YES YES, Sarah, THANK YOU!

  35. By Catherine on December 12, 2011

    I know how scary this can be, Sarah.  Listening to your baby cough uncontrollably is terrifying.  I, too, felt very similarly about vaccines and being a personal choice, etc.  up until my child (and myself, btw: I had a horrific case, it was not like a mild cold or sore throat at all, more like gasping for air, coughing until I almost passed out, terrifying hell) contracted the virus and I saw just what a deadly disease that is largely preventable and had been fairly controlled could do.  It’s scary stuff.  I hope Charlotte recovers quickly.  I also think you make a good point that some people just do not build titers against diseases, despite vaccinations and we don’t know who is carrying immunity to what unless we test.  Example, my husband is a physician and despite three rounds of Hep B, does not carry titers.  Yes, that freaks me out, so he needs to be extra careful.  But in life, we all do.  :)  Things to think about.

  36. By Sarah Christensen on December 12, 2011

    Everyone - Thank you for the well wishes.  Charlotte has improved markedly over the past two days.  I will keep you posted.  My family truly appreciates the outpouring of support and thoughtfulness from each and every one of you.

    A few people have asked: will I continue to allow Charlotte to spend time around unvaccinated children?  The answer is yes.  I will be more attentive to Charlotte’s personal health going forward, but yes.  Absolutely.

    There are a few reasons for this, including that I’m not really keen on parenting out of fear, but chief among them is that it seems to me that it would be a dreadful shame if I denied myself and my child the company of wonderful, wonderful people simply because we disagree on public health policy.  I don’t stop interacting with people who smoke in public, after all, even though I strongly support legislation that renders that illegal.  I also think that it is important to give people who opt out of vaccinating the benefit of the doubt.  I don’t know what factors into their decision AND THEY DO NOT OWE ME AN EXPLANATION.  I do not believe I am a better or worse parent than people who make vaccination decisions I personally disagree with.  I believe that we are all doing our best to make decisions out of love and that’s all that matters.  When Charlotte is an adult, I want her to tolerate a wide array of differences among people, and I also want her to understand that you can’t just wrap yourself up in a bubble if you don’t like something.  What you can do is fight for changes or make an effort to understand and tolerate differences or make your own conflicting decisions confidently and respectfully.  You cannot learn to navigate this world if you are constantly sheltered from it.

    One of the other big reasons that I will not end friendships based on immunization choices is this: if Charlotte, as a parent, were to opt out of vaccinating her children, I would still want to be a part of their life and I hope that I would be the sort of parent who would support her parental choice without nagging her endlessly.  Nobody likes that.  This is a HUGE part of why I typically am so in favor of respecting parental choice and withholding judgment from people who make different decisions.  I do not ever want my children to feel like I am an intolerant mother or like they cannot disagree with me without penalty.  The best way to show my daughter that I will accept and respect her choices as an adult is to accept and respect those choices in other adults right now.

    Christine - I agree very much so that the pertussis vaccine - indeed, many vaccines - need to be held to higher standards and I find it disheartening that they are not.  The example you gave is just one of many that tells me something in our system is fundamentally broken.  I also agree that it would be nice to see an independent pertussis vaccine.  That said, I still believe that vaccination is very important.

    Tracy - I have a very vivid memory of walking along Lacey Park with you talking about vaccination.  My perspectives on vaccination and its importance to a community as a whole, therefore, should not be a surprise to you.  Furthermore, considering that I have stated here that I understand why people do not vaccinate and that I am, despite my family’s current situation, trying to remain understanding, I find your comment unnecessarily incendiary.

    As I responded to Taryn, I *am* upset that Charlotte did not build an adequate resistance to pertussis after having the vaccine.  But, as I explained in both my post and my earlier comment, our problem is not with the vaccine.  It’s with Charlotte’s unique biochemistry rendering her incapable of building an adequate resistance to pertussis to fight it independently, no matter how many vaccines she receives or how many times she contracts whooping cough.  Anomalies like Charlotte exist for every disease.

    You are right that I assume Charlotte contracted pertussis from this particular child.  She could have contracted it from any number of people we’ve come in contact with - HOWEVER it is very likely that this child, who was contagious when we scheduled a play-date and who was later positively diagnosed through cultures with pertussis - is where it came from.

    You are also right that RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT, when I look at what my family is going through, I have a very hard time believing that someone who opts out of vaccination cares as much about other children as they do about their own, although a previous commenter Sheila gave me food for thought on this topic.  (She always does, for the record.  Sheila is an excellent critical thinker.)

    Still, I believe that a decision without medical cause made not to vaccinate is fundamentally unfair to people in the community who do not build specific titers, who are very young or very old or very weak, who have compromised immune systems, etc.  That day at Lacey Park, I told you that I have never been able to shake the feeling that families who, without medical cause, choose not to vaccinate rely on and owe a debt of gratitude to families who do.  I stand by that, even if I do understand what they’re going through and why they make the choices they do.  I have always tried to be supportive of a family’s right to choose what is best for their family.  But, from time to time given changing circumstances, it would be unrealistic to think that I never struggle with that ideal.

    Last, but not least, I would like to address your interpretation of my blog as a platform for receiving pats on the back: What The Fuck?  If you had a front-row seat to what it was like to write THIS POST, to sit in my living room trying to write a post about how I felt at a specific moment in time given very specific circumstances without infuriating every person on the planet, I highly doubt you would say I was in it for pats on the back.

    It’s like my husband said last night: I could write a post with a single word “Vaccination” and because it’s a highly-emotional topic, there is a very good chance that my comment field would turn into a shit-storm.  If I want back-pats, I write about my garden.  Nobody ever says anything mean about my garden.

    Tracy, I think I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating right now.  I would really REALLY appreciate it if you read my blog posts and gave me the benefit of the doubt that I’m not trying to be an asshole.  It would mean a lot to me if when you re-read this post, you look at me as a woman who is trying to figure out what she now believes about vaccination given this new development in her life instead of looking at me as some sort of manipulative over-assuming moron.

  37. By on December 12, 2011

    Thank you very much for posting this. I hope someday people realize that vaccines are a huge boon to public health and that routine vaccination protects far, far more people than it harms.

    Best wishes to your little one for a speedy recovery.

  38. By cindie on December 12, 2011

    Very well written blog!  I cannot say wether I agree or dont agree but you give a very convincing speech!  There is SO much fear pushed on a parent from both sides of the spectrum, I just feel its so important to remember that our children were given to us by God so ultimatly they belong to Him, so I make it a daily practice to seek Him and what HE wants for His/my children.  I have to move past the fear and follow what God wants and in the end all will be well.  If I make decisions based on fear then it will all end up wrong and screwed up…
      My heart broke as I read your story and I am praying for your sweet baby!!!!

  39. By Sarah Christensen on December 12, 2011

    Adrienne - I WILL!

    Jessika - Please consider this your friendly neighborhood reminder to please be respectful of other commenters.

  40. By on December 12, 2011

    I am very happy that you have such a wonderful blog that allows so many perspectives to be spoken. I just wish people would lay low until Charlotte is feeling better. That’s first and foremost on my mind!

    Wrist slapped.

  41. By on December 12, 2011

    “I have never been able to shake the feeling that families who, without medical cause, choose not to vaccinate rely on and owe a debt of gratitude to families who do.“

    Yes, THIS is exactly how I feel.  Thank you.

    I am glad Charlotte is better, and hope the rest of the healing comes quickly.

    I suppose I vaguely knew that not all vaccinations would make a child not get the disease, but I seem to have dismissed it as small print.  Now this fact is reality.  And makes me believe in herd immunizations even more. 

    Thinking back, an old family friend did not seem able to build up an immunity to chicken-pox.  She had it a few times as a child, and a couple times as an adult.

  42. By on December 12, 2011

    Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou for being brave enough to post about this, despite the potential for heated discussion (and rude comments you have to deal with). I hope that poor Charlotte’s pain will at least make any fence sitters realize the huge importance and potential impact of vaccinations. (Also as a side note: I do love your ever evolving vegetable garden!)

  43. By carolina on December 13, 2011

    i read this recently and it reminded me of people who jump to conclusions and who jump at the chance of criticizing others: “Whenever you degrade someone else, you degrade yourself. When you insult another, you insult yourself. Don’t believe me? When you yell, your voice is loudest in your own ears, isn’t it?“
    Having just moved to England, I am also at fault of this sometimes, as I feel foreign and so different than I did in the States….but its very important to remember that we all come from different families, situations, and circumstances.

  44. By missjoules on December 13, 2011

    I am so glad to hear that Charlotte is already on the mend! That is really the most important thing here, and I hope that your friend’s child is on the mend as well.

    We have a cold over here, nothing at all on scale with whooping cough, but it is Robin’s first fever and the first time that he has been too blocked up to nurse and you better believe that I would do absolutely anything in my power to make him better, to the point that when I started feeling really poorly on Sunday I was quite pleased because ANTIBODIES! YEAH!

    Did I cry when they gave Bobs his vaccinations? Yes. But I cannot imagine not doing anything in my power to keep him safe and well.

    I really think I can get my head around just about any parenting decision, even if it is not one that I would make myself. You circumsize? Use disposable diapers? Cry it out? That’s your choice. But when you start making decisions that effect my kid, I can’t help but have an opinion.

  45. By Widelawns on December 13, 2011

    I come from a family that is fanatically anti-vaccine. I went and got vaccinated as an adult and I was petrified of vaccinating my baby. A few months ago I heard about a local infant who died from Pertussis and made the decision to vaccinate. Just yesterday she got another Pertussis booster and I was terrified it was going to hurt her (I was brainwashed my whole life I guess). I needed to read this. Thank you for posting this. I made the right decision in vaccinating my child. I have to add though that I had no idea that vaccinating doesn’t always offer protection for some people and I bet the mother who chose not to vaccinate her child didn’t know either. Thank you for informing your readers of this important fact as well. It’s so sad and so scary. Poor little Charlotte. Wishing her a full and speedy recovery and so sorry you guys had to suffer this way. Additionally, I’m copying and pasting your doctor’s comments about breastfeeding her into an email to my relatives who think I’m crazy for still nursing a one year old. People can be so ignorant.

  46. By on December 13, 2011

    I have never read anything that more accurately reflected my feelings about vaccination, both in terms of understanding why people don’t vax but also being very troubled by it.  And it’s so nice to hear it from someone who is so inclined towards natural parenting.  Thank you so much for sharing.  And I hope your daughter recovers quickly and fully.

  47. By on December 13, 2011

    I’m so sorry to hear that Charlotte got sick; as a parent, I can’t think of anything that makes me feel more powerless than to see my child sick.  Luckily, Charlotte is in excellent hands and I’m sure she’ll be back to her sunny self in no time. 

    I struggle with how the decisions of others effect my child on a daily basis, whether it is the decision to vaccinate or to not vaccinate, or the decision to drive recklessly on the same road I drive on with my daughter in the car.  I cannot keep her in a bubble but I also cannot free myself from worrying about her and her safety.  I would think all parents could relate to that on some level.  It’s scary being a parent of a child you love more than life itself.

    I’ve a long time reader and infrequent commenter, but I find it disheartening that someone would claim you seek a “pat on the back.“  When I read your posts, I see humility, humor, and quiet pride in living your lives doing what you believe is best for your family.  I see a person who has created an outlet for other moms so that we feel less alone and feel more like a community of women who are doing our best to raise amazing kids in an ever changing world. 

    This post, and many others of yours, have reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Lewis Thomas,
    “We pass the word around;
    we ponder how the case is put by different people;
    we read the poetry;
    we meditate over the literature;
    we play the music;
    we change our minds;
    we reach an understanding.
    Society evolves this way, not by shouting each other down,
    but by the unique capacity of unique, individual human beings
    to comprehend each other.“

  48. By Phase Three of Life on December 13, 2011

    “I have never been able to shake the feeling that families who, without medical cause, choose not to vaccinate rely on and owe a debt of gratitude to families who do.“

    Very well said. I’ve never thought of it that way, but you’re right.

    So glad Charlotte is feeling better, and I hope she continues to improve.

  49. By on December 13, 2011

    Thank you for being brave enough to post this entry. The vaccine debate is obviously a touchy subject, but you managed to discuss it respectfully despite having just gone through such a traumatic sickness. As someone who wasn’t vaccinated as a child (for religious reasons) and then made the choice at the age of 20 (after leaving that religion)  to be vaccinated as an adult, I’m fascinated by the arguments both for and against childhood vaccinations. While I can’t say I’ve decided what I’ll do when I have children, what I do know is that this is the most compelling pro-vaccination arguments I’ve read in a long time. I’m so glad to hear that Charlotte is feeling better! :)

  50. By Sarah Evans on December 13, 2011

    I totally agree with you. A few weeks ago a mother knowingly sent her child to daycare with hand/foot/mouth and my precious child became very ill (also with RSV and ear infections at the same time) because she figured her time was more important than my child’s health. I was so mad I was shaking. I vacinate my daughter, and I also made sure that all the adults she would be around on a regular basis were re-vacinnated for pertussis. You are a wonderful mother; charlotte is very lucky. I’m sorry it took a post about your baby’s illness for me to leave a comment, but I truly enjoy reading your blog, and although we are different, we stand for a lot of the same stuff, you and me.

  51. By Stephanie on December 13, 2011

    I wish I could portray my feelings as clearly as you do. You took the words right out of my mouth! I too try to understand those who choose not to vaccinate but I can promise you, if one of those kids got Connor sick, regardless of him being vaccinated, I would be royally pissed off and I’m sure my understanding would waiver.

    I am sending healing thoughts your way. Do not listen to all these negative naysayers. Shame on them. PS. If you don’t like her blog DON’T READ IT.

    xo

  52. By Lindsay on December 13, 2011

    I just want to say THANK YOU for this entry. You were so kind to me when I commented on how devastating it was to be unable to breastfeed, how I was in therapy because of it, etc. It made me truly believe how genuine and wonderful you are as a person and parent. This entry is no different. I do everything as holistically and naturally as possible. We clean with steam and chemical-free cleaners. We eat organic, all-natural everything. I’m not into taking medications or giving my child medication at all unless it’s an act of mandatory desperation. Yet I vaccinate my child and I suppose that surprises a lot of moms who say they’re surprised I do. But I vaccinate for the same reasons you mentioned here. It’s scary, totally, but everything you said is the truth. A similar situation happened in a preschool class of my friend’s child. A child was not vaccinated against pertussis and several children in the class contracted it. The parents were angry and I totally, totally understood why.

    Thank you for this entry. Seriously. Thank you.

  53. By Mama Bub on December 13, 2011

    First, I am glad that Charlotte is doing better. Second, this post put into words EXACTLY how I feel about non-vaccinators. I agree with you on every point.

  54. By on December 13, 2011

    First off I want to start by saying that I am so glad Charlotte is on the mend. And also that I am not a parent nor am I slamming anyone’s decision on vaccinating or not. Just going to share something. A close friend of mine has a son who after receiving a vaccine completely disappeared. He was a beautiful, gregarious, outgoing 2 year old until the morning after he received his shots. It was like that spirit completely left his body and was replaced with a dark, empty void. And even though science has yet to find a link between vaccines and autism, his mother knows that it’s what took her son. The way that Charlotte’s body chemistry voided out the pertussis vaccine is the same way this boys body took that vaccine. Only he didn’t get sick with the disease. And get better. He’s lost inside his own body. Locked away from the world he once loved, away from the parents who once were his world. It’s been 10 years… He hasn’t and will very likely never get better. So while kids like Charlotte get very sick and then (fingers crossed) get better, kids like Sander with autism won’t. Just something to keep in mind when you come across a parent who has refused vaccinations for their child. Someone who believes they caused their child great harm by pumping them full of harmful toxins because it was “the right choice”. And I would argue that of course a parent loves and cares more for their own child than they do anyone else’s. Again, not trying to be argumentative, just wanted to share that. My continued thoughts for Charlotte’s speedy recovery.

  55. By Theresa on December 13, 2011

    Molly said, “Tracy, I very much hope you NEVER experience the knowledge that your deeply loved and wanted child is desperately, critically ill due to your own inaction.“

    Agreed. That would completely suck… BUT—it would also suck if your deeply loved and wanted child gets desperately, critically ill due to your choice to vaccinate… which happens. Someone in our family received a vaccine at around 18 years old… before going to college, and she almost bled out. She went to the hospital because she was bleeding from many orifices and they didn’t know if she would make it. She did- but she is not supposed to get any vaccines again in her life. She was a perfectly healthy girl as far as I know—- so there is no way to predict if your child will react.

    Sarah—This sucks. It really just sucks. You are an amazingly loving mother. You care for Charlotte so well. I love love reading your blog… But people who don’t vaccinate are just like you. They love their children so much and would do anything to protect them… It has nothing to do about caring about others or not. They don’t want anything to happen to your child, and they don’t want anything to happen to theirs. People don’t choose to get sick, it happens, and then you try to get better. Vaccines are different. It comes down to the possibility of knowing that a direct choice you made permanently damaged or even killed your child. There are risks either way. If there were no risks of adverse side affects and people still chose not to vaccinate… then they clearly wouldn’t care about others, but asking someone to do something that could seriously harm their child so that yours might be safer… I don’t know… it’s a lot to ask.

  56. By Sarah Christensen on December 13, 2011

    Theresa - I think that your perspective on this is not only well-put, but also reflects a way of looking at this topic that I had not thought of.  I know it must have taken a lot of courage to put that out there, but thank you.  It has given me food for thought.

  57. By Courtney Johnson on December 13, 2011

    I’m so, so sorry that Charlotte is sick.  I can’t imagine how terrifying those first couple days had to be…  my LO is sick with a cold right now, and it’s scary enough (first time he’s been sick,) just because I know that I have to let it run its course, and there’s not much I can do about that.  As parents, I think the hardest lesson is learning you can’t control *everything*. 

    Thank you for posting this.  When my kiddo was born, I was firmly on the bandwagon of vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.  We worked with a great pediatrician, who put him on an adjusted schedule where he never received more than 2 vaccines at a time.  Fast forward 16 months and we’re living in a place that isn’t as forward thinking.  The general rule for doctors here is that you do exactly as they say, or you’re fired as a patient.  I’ve spoken to a few other parents in the area that have opted to not vaccinate at all because of this and it scares me.  My husband and I have decided to continue the schedule our initial pediatrician laid out, but we’re going through the health department, selecting vaccines as needed, rather than going through his pediatrician.  Frustrating stuff. 

    I hope Charlotte gets better soon and things will get back to normal.

  58. By on December 13, 2011

    Theresa- I’m just curious, but regarding your family member… is she no longer allowed to receive any intramuscular INJECTION (like steroid shots, antibiotic shots, etc.), or was it just vaccines that she has to avoid? Just wondering… either way, so glad to read that she made it through that. What a scary thing to go to through. :(

  59. By Lane on December 13, 2011

    Oh my goodness. I am so sorry! I don’t know you, but just the thought of my little girl ever experiencing what your little girl is, kills me. I hope she heals quickly!

    I have no idea how I would feel in your shoes, but reading this post sure gave me a lot to think about. I know that it is a hot topic and it must be difficult to write about, but as a parent, I appreciate that you took the time to share your story.

    I wish your daughter many healthy, happy days ahead of her!

  60. By on December 14, 2011

    In the spring of 1994 when my daughter was 21/2 yrs old we were driving home in the middle of the night from visiting relatives in Ohio. My daughter began coughing and then it turned into clawing at her neck and with difficulty saying, “ mommy I can’t breath”. I insisted my husband get off at the next exit, in nowhere town USA. As it turned out that exit road had the last hospital for the next 4 hours. As I ran into the emergency room holding my coughing daughter, an orderly ran up , scooped her out of my arms and took her to a waiting cubical. The doctor heading the almost empty emergency room that night was a pediatric specialist, from Boston. Without saying a word to us he put an oxygen mask on our daughter, turned to us a said, your daughter has whooping cough, has she been vaccinated. She had been vaccinated. Our daughter spent 2 days in an oxygen tent with a steroid IV. as a result of that illness, she has weak respitory system. When se was 6 years old, we went through the same thing again, luckily we were at home. But she was hospitalized for 3 days. She is a healthy 20 year old, studying nursing, however we almost lost her 2 times to a preventable illness, during the time period when people were deciding not to vaccinate their children in large numbers. Like Sarah, I have felt that people needed to make their own choices about vaccinations, but someone’s choice did ave an effect on my child. Another interesting thing about my daughter whose name is also Sarah, she had all her shots on schedule through out her life. However, this past spring she went to Cambodia to teach in an orphanage for the semester. She came ack home with 3 different illnesses. One of them was the Mumps! Cambodia does not vaccinate their children. Though my daughter was given this vaccine as a child, doctors have discovered that it now only works 60 percent of he time and that most people require 2 shots during their life time.
      My advice to you Sarah, is the same great advice my pediatrician gave me, in the cold months don’t give your child dairy, it will cause a mucus build up, and treat her holisticlly. More then likely a little cold will always be a big deal for her for the rest of her life. It is for my daughter. And teach her to be aware of her body and how she is feeling.
      I understand completely the scare you went through. May your daughter be blessed with a speedy recovery and wonderful health. God bless!

  61. By on December 14, 2011

    Sarah, THIS is my worst fear right now. My oldest Arianna WAS vaccinated (shes 14 months), but had a 1/1000 reaction, unconsoleable crying for 3 or more hours, hers lasted 2 full days, of constant screaming, sounding like she was in pain, there was nothing we could do, she wouldnt sleep, she wouldnt eat, she would just scream, and it was from a reaction to pertussis vac. and according to the CDC her reaction was on the moderate side, in the category with seizures, she now can NOT have the pertussis vac. and she is at serious risk for getting whopping cough, and I want to scream at every one for not doing them, when before Arianna got hers, I struggled back and forth on doing them… but I did it, and now shes still at risk and it kills me.

    Her little sister Makenna now 2 months, will be starting her shots this month, and im afraid she will have the same reaction, and then she to will be open for whooping cough. I am so sorry Char, is so sick. As you saw on fb, my makenna was just in the hospital, and Arianna was just sick with severe bronchiolitis, and double ear infection. nothing worse than sick kiddies, worse when its something that could be prevented!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I like you, understand, that these parents have the right, and I understand why they wouldnt want to do it, i did the research, i tossed the idea back and forth my entire pregnancy, and last second decided to just do them, and I am glad I did. But because other people would rather take the pack mentality, our babies are at a higher risk for getting something, we pretty much got rid of!!!!!!!!!!! Its sad, and its selfish, and if Ari does get whooping cough, I am going to find it very hard to not bitch smack the parents of the child who infected her. Because for me, Im doing everything I can to keep my babies safe, and to keep THEIR babies safe, and if they cant do the same, then they now deserve to be smacked. Im angry for you!

  62. By Theresa on December 14, 2011

    Anne- I honestly don’t know. I am not very close to this family member… she is my brother-in-law’s sister-in-law so I only know what my mother-in-law told me, and she said that she couldn’t have vaccines anymore… nothing about other injections.

    Carlyn- you say that you are doing everything to keep your babies safe but that your daughter had a bad reaction to one of the vaccines. Some kids have worse reactions-so one could potentially argue that you are not doing everything to keep your child safe. (I am not saying that you don’t want your child to be safe. Of course you do… this is just for argument’s sake.) You don’t know if your child will get sick the disease, but you do know that one of your children had a bad reaction to the vaccine so to choose to use the same vaccine on the next child is a little scary. I don’t know if the reaction had anything to do with genetics, but if it did, that could mean another reaction for the baby that may or may not be worse. This sounded snotty and I honestly don’t mean it to be.. just trying to give a different perspective and protect non-vaccinators from bitch smacks.

  63. By Cindy A on December 14, 2011

    Just hoping Charlotte is getting well soon.  Thinking about her… <3

  64. By Zoe on December 14, 2011

    I’ve been thinking about you and Charlotte since I first read your post and then I read this today and thought it might interest you: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/12/now_ive_seen_it_all_an_anti-vaccine_chil.php?utm_source=networkbanner&utm_medium=link

    I hope Charlotte is getting much better and you are getting plenty of support.

  65. By on December 14, 2011

    Tracy, I am the woman whose non-vaxed kid gave whooping cough to Charlotte.  My son’s cultures and Charlotte’s cultures have the same pertussis mutations, so there is less than a 1% chance that Charlotte got it from somewhere else.

    You need to get off your high horse.  If anyone should be angry abotu this post it should be me.  She’s blaming *me* for Charlotte being sick!!  In Sarah’s shoes, you or I would both be just as angry & in my shoes, I can tell you that the stress of pertussis is enough to make you rethink vax plus the guilt of passing it to a kid who can’t fight it off is horrible.

    Sarah, thanks for protecting me.  I’m so so sorry.  Tell Charlotte we love her.

  66. By Sarah Christensen on December 14, 2011

    Francine - Please consider this a reminder to keep your comments respectful of others.

    You might get some backlash on here in the comments - or you might not because it’s been a few days, I don’t know.  If you do and you want your comment removed, let me know and I’ll take it down.

  67. By Cindy A on December 16, 2011

    Francine- I have not put in a comment about this subject but I feel it is commendable that you come here and write, also that you are considering every angle and view (non-vax vs. vax)... I know you are not looking to be praised but I think that is very strong to own up for something you probably feel terrible about.

  68. By Olivia on December 16, 2011

    THANK YOU for writing this!!!  As a nurse, I cringe through so many blog posts about vaccinations but this one articulated so well the reason why heard immunity is necessity.  When people say that not having their children vaccinated is their RIGHT, I wonder if they realize that their rights affect mine?  That their decisions affect my children.  My daughter got RSV last winter when another mom knowingly brought her child to daycare with RSV.  My other daughter contracted swine flu last year after 2 kids from her class exposed her to it, both unvaccinated.  We must all make the best decisions for our children that we can but we must also, as parents, have a social conscience.  Vaccinating your children is not just about protecting them, it’s about protecting our society as a whole.

  69. By Kristen @ The Concrete Runner on December 17, 2011

    I have an 8 week old daughter who will be going to get her vaccinations this coming week.  I was on the fence about it for awhile, but your reason was the exact reason why I decided that she will be getting vaccinated.  Thank you so much for sharing!

  70. By on December 19, 2011

    Hello my dear….of course you’re upset…your sweet girl is sick, and will be so for many weeks to come. If you want to protect your daughter, do you then go so far as to not put her in a car (other are driving and may hit you), go out to eat (other are cooking and may not do it properly), go for a walk (another’s dog may attack, a bike or car may swerve, etc.) the list could go on and on…we all do as we are convicted. Be careful to not go so far that we as parent’s lose the right to raise our children as we are convicted. I rarely agree with other people’s decision concerning how they raise their children, but they have that right….and thank God we still live in a country that gives us that right. How would you feel if you lived in China and had a girl….only one child missy….choose whether you keep this one or try for a boy. How about the countries that take children at a young age and raise them in government facilities….thank for your kids, let us indoctrinate them. I feel terrible for you, but you have just as much right to vaccinate you child and expose those unvaccinated to that illness for a couple days. Don’t tell me that doesn’t happen. I have friends that don’t vaccinate and have gotten illnesses due to freshly vaccinated friends. Life is a risk…loving is a risk…if you have to hole up, shun friends and don’t expose yourself or your child to anything. Be careful with your train of thought..it can take you down scary paths and to frightening conclusions.

  71. By on December 19, 2011

    Addie - I think if you read through this post and its comments, you will find that I never advocated for the removal of parental choice.  This is precisely because I feel that chipping away at parental authority is a slippery slope - and also because I feel that parents are the most likely to advocate for the best choices for their children and families.  This is a post that reflects my current struggle to embrace my personal ideals - including the continuation of parental choice on a wide array of issues - while my personal circumstances have shown that there are exceedingly negative consequences to this mindset, and this has soured my perspective.  It is nothing more and nothing less than that.

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