If I had a dollar for every time I heard a parent wish there was a guidebook for parenting, I would be rich. If I wrote that book, I would be even richer! Unfortunately, I don’t have all of the answers. No one does. Moms pass along somewhat antiquated advice. Friends share their opposing viewpoints on how to care for kids, often at the same time. Even the parenting gurus can’t agree on what is the right thing to do. In the end, we all have to make our own parenting decisions based on our own feelings and the information we have.
When it comes to vaccinations, the information can be overwhelming. Much of what we read online is opinion based and doesn’t offer any true statistics or information about whether or not to immunize. Searching for trusted sources is always important when making significant life decisions, so it is best not to rely on social media commentary or the opinions of friends and family. You can consult your doctor. Get a second opinion. Speak to a nurse practitioner. Call your local health unit. Most importantly, you can learn about the diseases that may be prevented by vaccines.
I have always supported immunizations and ensured that my children’s vaccinations were up to date. Despite my beliefs, I felt that it is the right of every parent to choose what he or she feels is right for each child. My feelings about that changed a few years ago when my son was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
I learned that there are hundreds of thousands of people like my son in this country, and each of them has a compromised immune system. In cases like my son’s, this is exasperated by medication that suppresses his immune system further in order to keep his disease in check. My son and everyone out there living with similar diseases is put at risk of illness and even death by those who choose not to immunize. Of course, I still feel it is the right of the parent to make the decision about immunization, but I also feel it is my son’s right not to be exposed to illnesses that may easily be prevented.
Meningococcal disease, which can potentially cause serious symptoms like meningitis or septicemia, is one of the diseases that I have immunized my children for. There are five main groups of bacteria that make up most of the cases of meningococcal disease in Canada, and we have vaccines available to help prevent them. Babies are at the greatest risk of contracting meningococcal disease, but teenagers are also more susceptible than other age groups. Meningococcal disease can be life threatening and it has flu-like symptoms that can make it difficult to diagnose. An effective way to help prevent it is through vaccination.
Knowing that meningococcal disease can be easily overlooked and that it can be a potentially life-threatening disease, I want to do whatever I can to ensure my children do not contract it. I encourage you to learn more. Obviously, there are no guarantees in life, but I am happy to take precautions.
Disclosure: Although this post has been sponsored by GSK, the opinions and language are my own. This post will not be monitored by GSK. If you need to report an adverse event for any GSK product, please call 1-800-387-7374.