Feb 19, 2015

Vaccinations Are in their Best Interests

Photo courtesy of CDC

Without a doubt, most parents make decisions they believe are in the best interest of their children. Sometimes they listen to friends, family, doctors and teachers. Sometimes they do their research. Sometimes they don't.

And sometimes, life just throws curve balls, even if we've done all of the above.

Like many parents, I am the victim of the occasional curve ball. Case in point: My son recently switched schools in the middle of the school year. While not ideal, this resulted from a decision previously made that I absolutely thought was in his best interest. As a student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and learning disabilities, he requires additional support in the classroom, which is outlined by his IEP. I didn't realize the middle school program we had chosen to keep him in wasn't equipped to provide the support needed. I hadn't done my research. Instead, I listened to friends. I trusted his teacher, who had told us to stay.

But recently, I started listening to him. In a year, we'd gone from honor roll to all Fs. He didn't want to go to school in the mornings. He had given up. So I did my research. I discovered that what might have been great for my friends wasn't the best for my son. In just a couple of weeks since switching and receiving the needed level of support, he's happier, has gone from all Fs to all As, likes school again and is hanging out with old friends.

All of this because a crisis forced me to rethink my decision.

Why I am telling you this? I realized that the process I went through was a lot like what I hear about at work about parents who choose not to vaccinate, who delay or space out shots. They believe they are making decisions in the best interest of their children. They listen to friends, family, doctors (yes, doctors) and teachers. They do their research on the internet.

But then something happens to make them question their decision — something like a measles outbreak, a crisis depending on where they live and/or the age of their children. And they realize that maybe the advice they were getting wasn't accurate, or the research they had done on the internet was on websites not based in science. Now that they have the facts, they are rethinking their decision. And many are choosing to fully vaccinate.

All of this because a crisis forced them to rethink their decision.

Are they bad parents for not vaccinating? Some say they are. Am I a bad parent for making my child suffer through a school that wasn't supporting him? Some would say I was. But we must remember that as parents, none of us is perfect — no matter what Pinterest or Facebook portrays. We have bad days, we make mistakes, we are faced with crises.

But the moments when we're able to acknowledge those mistakes, learn from them, and create a better life for our children — those are the moments that are life-changing, and in some cases, life-saving.

Vaccines save lives. It's been proven throughout hundreds of years. If you have questions or concerns, let us know. We're here to help provide factual information and resources to help you make that life-saving decision.

So now, please do what’s in the best interest of your family: vaccinate. And while you’re at it, become a voice of positive support for the reasons why you vaccinate. Post a picture of your beautiful family using the hashtag #IAmTheWhy and tag @ImmunizeNevada on Facebook or Twitter. Click here for more information.

After all: It truly is in your children’s best interests.

Heidi Parker, MA

As executive director of Immunize Nevada, Heidi Parker, MA leads and engages a diverse coalition of staff, volunteers, member organizations and funders so they are passionate about vaccines and access to preventive health care across Nevada’s rural, urban and frontier communities. Bringing over two decades of experience in nonprofit program management, fundraising and marketing, she has dedicated her career to being able to affect her community in a positive way, whether working with Head Start families, victims of violence, college students or Nevadans needing immunizations.

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