There are so many responsibilities we have as parents, the biggest of which is to keep our children safe and healthy. With each of my pregnancies I had regular visits to my doctor and learned what I should eat, what vitamins I should take, and how to give my babies the healthiest environment to develop in. I sought professional help to deliver each of my children and consulted health professionals about breastfeeding and nutrition for them too. It only makes sense that I asked my health care provider and local public health unit about immunizations as well. After hearing the risks and reasons for the routine immunizations, I went forward with them for each of my children.
Our generation is fortunate to have not experienced the devastating effects of polio, tetanus and diphtheria on a grand scale, so they don’t necessarily seem as scary to us as something like autism. The truth is, studies including millions of children have shown there is no connection between vaccines and autism. In fact, vaccines causing severe reactions of any kind are rare. Vaccines have saved the lives of more babies and children than any other medical intervention in the last 50 years.
When I decided to have my children vaccinated, there were things I didn’t know. I didn’t know that many years later my son would develop an autoimmune disease. I didn’t know that he would have to receive biological medications that break down his immune system. I didn’t know that he would be at a greater risk to contract viruses and diseases than the average child. I didn’t know that there were tens of thousands of people just like him that look healthy, but their bodies can’t fight off disease. I didn’t know that exposure to influenza, measles, or any of the other diseases that we vaccinate against, could be a death sentence for him and people like him.
But now I know.
Now I am more grateful than ever for our immunization schedule. I am glad that he had his vaccines years before his autoimmune disease developed, because I know he is protected. I am thankful that his siblings are also immune to these diseases, so we are further protecting his health. I am relieved that children need to have proof of specific vaccines to attend school, so that the majority of people make the choice to protect not only their own children, but also their friends, their communities and their countries from these devastating diseases. Mostly, I am grateful that vaccines have reduced the risk of death from infectious diseases that were the leading cause of death 100 years ago to less than five per cent of all deaths in Canada today. That is proof vaccinations work, as long as we are all using them.
This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions of the author are their own.
Getting immunized is an important part of creating a foundation for a healthy life. If you’re on the fence about immunizing, here’s the information you need to make an informed decision for your family.