Last Tuesday, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that mandates all schoolchildren be vaccinated regardless of a family’s religion or personal beliefs. Parents who decline to vaccinate their kids would have to homeschool them or send them to a public independent study program off school grounds.
Some people say that the anti-vaccination movement is partly to blame for the spread of diseases like measles, causing many parents to think about the question: Should I vaccinate my child or not?
Indeed, the topic of vaccination seems to be a “hot” one these days, and there is a diverse number of views about it, even here in the Philippines. Here are some of them:
Yes to vaccines and the protection they give Donna Donor, events director, and mom to Kib, 8, believes in the need for vaccination for her child. “Although it won’t really protect you 100% from the illness, it will lessen the severity of symptoms to humans,” she shares. “However, there are vaccines that I’m still thinking about because of their high cost, plus I didn’t have them myself when I was young.”
According to Donna, Kib was given the basic vaccines until he was one year old, namely BCG, Hepa B, DPT, Polio, HIB, PCV, measles, MMR, varicella, typhoid, flu, and rotarix.
Business owner and mom of one Christine Dela Cruz-Arteta agrees. “I believe that vaccination will protect my child from serious infections and other diseases,” she says.
“Getting vaccinated, or being quarantined if you chose not to be vaccinated is a social responsibility,” she continues. “My daughter was vaccinated with all the suggested vaccines in the baby book the pediatrician gave us.”
Make an informed decision For Allison Gozun, who is currently pregnant with her second child, vaccination is “definitely a must.”
“Having a science background makes it easier to decide and make an informed decision but I think if you can protect your kids (and others), why not do it?” Allison expounds. “I haven't seen any conclusive studies that prove a definite link between vaccines and other complications (such as autism), and since my child has no allergies (so far), keeping him updated with vaccines was our choice as parents.”
Allison says that her eldest child, two-year-old AJ, has rarely been sick so far. “If [vaccination] will prevent potentially deadly diseases even with a minimal risk of complications, I would choose to do it. Another thing is, if my child got sick, I wouldn't want my child's illness putting other people at risk if at all possible,” she continues.
A former orthoptist at the Singapore National Eye Centre, Allison says that she hopes that people will do their research before deciding whether to vaccinate or not. “Family doctors, nurses, health centers — they are all there if you would like information. There are some great articles to get information online but there are also some poorly researched pages that are just as easily accessible,” she adds. “It doesn't help anyone for people to promote views that give the wrong information — especially when they are emotionally driven to do so.”
“My child had all the recommended vaccines according to schedule. Besides health reasons, many schools look for this in their health records before deciding to accept them for enrolment,” Allison continues. “It's also better for the family because I'm currently pregnant and would like to protect myself and the baby.”
Give the protection that you can give to your child Mitch Cruz-Peralta, senior brand manager/marketing consultant and mom to Noah, 2, believes that vaccination can help decrease the possibility of complications from particular diseases. “The environment today is totally different from how it was when I was growing up,” she explains. “The surroundings are dirtier and I cannot risk my son getting sick.
Mitch takes this stand even if she hears several views on vaccines everywhere, and even if she contracted chicken pox and typhoid, despite being vaccinated. “I was never on the critical side,” she claims.
“When I was pregnant and had a possible exposure to someone with mumps, the first thing my OB asked me was whether I was vaccinated or had mumps in the past,” Mitch shares. “Good thing I was vaccinated; though it does not guarantee that I won't get it again, it lessens the risk.”
For Mitch, vaccination plays an important role in the protection of children. “No amount of preparing and giving them food that is all natural or cleaning the house all the time can actually keep them safe,” she adds.
“I want my child to have as much protection as he can. If he gets sick, then maybe it was meant to be but I can sleep at night, knowing that I tried my best to give him the protection I could give him. I don’t want to have regrets about not having him vaccinated.”
Mitch’s son Noah received all the vaccine shots as advised by his pediatrician. “When I told the pedia that I am not comfortable with the MMR vaccine, he delayed giving it to Noah just so I could have peace of mind, though he said there is no scientific evidence that it delays brain development,” Mitch shares.
Instead, Noah’s pediatrician told Mitch that she should be “more worried” about the Hepa A vaccine, and delayed giving it, too. “He gave the MMR vaccine when Noah was almost 2, because there was a growing number of measles cases in Manila.”
A doctor’s stand on vaccines Dr. Daisy Espejo-Torina, a pediatrician who has been in practice for 10 years, says vaccination is primarily for her daughter Monique’s protection, and for the protection of other kids who can’t get vaccinated.
“There was a time when all doctors could do was watch helplessly while their patients died from measles, diarrhea, pneumonia, and meningitis,” Dr. Espejo-Torina expounds. “Now these diseases are preventable with vaccines.”
“In a third-world country such as ours, patients who can't afford the services of a private doctor endure long lines and sweltering heat to have access to free vaccines in health centers (the availability of which is not guaranteed), while in industrialized countries vaccines are given for free but their people refuse to have them,” she continues. “It's ironic.”
Dr. Espejo-Torina further states that the mortalities among kids aged 5 years and below in third world countries are mostly due to diseases that are preventable by vaccines.
“It's a reality that people in industrialized countries are sadly unaware of and have never experienced for a long time,” she adds. “Perhaps it is why they have taken vaccination for granted. To us, having access to vaccines is a privilege. To them, it's just a choice.”
This is why Dr. Espejo-Torina chose to give her own daughter, now 6, the complete set of vaccinations — BCG, DPT, Hep B, H.influenza b, polio, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, rotavirus, measles, MMR, varicella, Hep A, yearly flu vaccines and all booster shots after the primary series.
“I have seen kids die from measles, meningitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, tetanus. If there are vaccines available to keep my child from getting those diseases, why shouldn't I avail of them?”