The vaccination debate

So recently I found myself in the middle of a bit of a vaccination debate…okay I am exaggerating slightly when I say ‘debate’. Basically I put a post on my Instagram account regarding Rafes 12 month vaccinations and the concerns that I had and it attracted a bit of attention from some people who are strongly against vaccinations. I should have known that I was going to incite different responses by using hashtags regarding immunisations, so I shouldn’t really have been surprised, even though this was not my intention.

Before I continue with my post I would just like to say that I am very “on the fence” when it comes to getting my child vaccinated. We are based in the UK and Rafe (who is now 13 months old) is up to date on the vaccines offered here, aside from the MMR which I have made the decision to delay. This means that Rafe has so far had the ‘6 in one vaccine’ (Diptheria, Tetanus, Whooping cough, Polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B and Hepatitis B.) He had this jab at 8, 12 and 16 weeks as recommended in the UK. He has also had his Pneumococcal (PCV) jab and the liquid vaccination at 8 and 12 weeks to protect against Rotavirus. He has also had the Meningitis B vaccine (8 and 16 weeks) and the Hib/Meningitis C vaccine. The fact he has had all of these doesn’t suggest that I am on the fence but I actually spent a long time thinking about what to do regarding the jabs and I have to admit I hated putting my son through it.

I wrote in my Instagram post that he had suffered adverse reactions after some of these vaccinations. I think maybe this was the reason it sparked such attention because people were concerned. When I say he had reacted it wasn’t a serious reaction it was just more of a reaction than friends/family members babies had, had. So along with the mild fever and generally being ‘under the weather’ Rafe also went off of his food for a few days which made him lose a bit of weight (this was at the 8 and 12 weeks jabs in particular.) Not a dangerous amount by any means, but given that he is a relatively small child anyway it was a worry for me.

Now I did do some of my own research prior to him having any jabs (by research I basically trawled the internet and lots of ‘mum forums’ for advice) and I definitely had my concerns. In fact I dreaded every set. It seemed like an awful lot of different vaccines to be having at the same time, especially for such small babies, and that did scare me. The reason that I chose to go ahead with these wasn’t because I was ‘pro-vaccination’ it was due to the fact that if Rafe caught one of these illnesses that could have made him seriously ill or worse and I had chosen not to immunize him against them I would never have been able to live with myself. As a mum you love your child/children more than anything in  the entire world and even though it is terrifying knowing that you are having them injected with something that could potentially make them ill, the idea of them catching something that you could have prevented them getting is also terrifying. It’s a very difficult decision to make and I think the only thing you can really do is go with your instinct as a mother. Shortly before he had either his first or second set of injections a close friends of mines niece was diagnosed with Meningitis B, very luckily she was absolutely fine and made a full recovery. But the fact that this had happened and to somebody, in a way so close made my decision a little easier. Of course I know that Vaccinations are not 100% reliable. I was immunised as a child against both Mumps and Pertussis (Whooping cough) and I caught both of these illnesses. But to have the knowledge that hopefully my child does have some level of protection against potentially life threatening diseases such as Meningitis is reassuring.

The MMR is the vaccine that I have chosen to delay. I am no medical professional and with this post I am in no way trying to advise anybody in terms of delaying vaccines. I am definitely in no way qualified to do so. I did my own research, talked about the matter with Rafes father and thought about it for a long time, and again I have just gone with my instinct as a mother. For me the idea of having the MMR along with the other immunizations due at one year just seemed too much. As mentioned earlier my child is relatively small for his age, not drastically so, but he is on the 25th centile. In addition to this Rafe does not spend enormous amounts of time around lots of other children. I am currently a stay at home mum, obviously you can catch illnesses anywhere but that was another factor that influenced my decision. I have not made a concrete decision into when he will have his MMR vaccine and I am still very much looking into it.

I think sometimes it’s very easy to write off people who are passionately anti-vaccination as extreme but I actually can see their point. I think many of these people have suffered at the hands of vaccinations, and if you have had life changing side effects to either yourself or somebody that you love then of course you are going to want to educate others and try to prevent them from going through the same things. We are so fortunate to have such amazing healthcare in the UK, and although I do personally believe that the vaccination process is safe for most people I also believe that it would be impossible to guarantee that it is completely safe for everybody, and that there won’t ever be cases of people having extreme reactions. Again this is just my own view I am not trying to incite an argument for or against the process.

When it comes to the vaccination debate I don’t think there is a concrete right or wrong answer. I believe that when vaccines work as they are intended, and it results in illnesses being completely erradicated and therefore lives being saved then that is amazing. But in the same breath I do think that immunisations do have the potential to cause serious harm and side effects to some people and that is absolutely terrible. I think the key is to inform yourself as much as you possibly can on both sides of the argument. Don’t instantly discredit somebody because there views may seem extreme, it’s all too easy to live in a bubble of “it won’t happen to me”. But I think at the end of the day all we can really do is research as much as we can, not be afraid to ask questions and go with our instincts as mothers as to what we think is best for our children, even if it goes against the majority.

I am not trying to cause arguments with this post. It’s a controversial subject and I can genuinely see the views of both sides. It’s just an expression of my personal opinions on the matter, not as any sort of medical professional or overly informed person. Just as a mum trying to do what they think is best for their child.

Jess xox

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