I'm not a doctor. I don't play one on TV, and I don't profess to have any great knowledge beyond my own experiences. But here's what I know: vaccines have saved the lives of more babies and children than any other medical intervention in the last 50 years. Let that sink in a bit.
Vaccines don't cause diseases. Vaccines can't cause diseases. Most are made from weakened (or dead) viruses and it's because of these vaccinations that we've been able to reduce the risk of death from infectious diseases (which were the leading cause of death just 100 years ago) to less than 5% of all deaths in Canada now. That's amazing. That's science. I like science.
When my son was born, he had multiple food allergies including eggs, dairy, white fishes, nuts, and more. His little body was susceptible to everything, it seemed, and he was hospitalized with a really severe case of bronchiolitis at about 4 months of age. It was terrifying to see how quickly a virus could invade his little body and cause damage. We were advised to strictly follow the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care publicly funded immunization schedule, to let the vaccines help strengthen his immune system. And we did. Both our kids are fully immunized. Both started receiving their vaccinations at just two months of age.
I know a lot of parents of allergic kids have reservations about immunizations, but before relying on internet advice (including my own!), I encourage you to speak to your family health care provider about the risks and benefits of immunizing your kids. Even when my son was allergic to eggs, we vaccinated (after our family doctor checked and double-checked the latest information regarding egg allergies and vaccines). And since our son is asthmatic, we've also chosen to give him the flu shot every year, to minimize the chance of him being hospitalized with flu complications.
But don't take my word for it. I'm just another concerned mom doing her best over here. I rely on medical professionals. Talk to your health care provider, and read the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) advice about these concerns.
We all want to protect our children, and I know there's an awful lot of speculation out there, but the facts are the facts: vaccines are tested to ensure safety and effectiveness, and we have the privilege of having them available to us here in Canada. We are lucky.
Vaccines work hard to prepare little bodies for the possible invasion of diseases, giving them the chance to build up their defenses in case they contact the virus. Side effects are rare, and for the most part, I would say that the result of contracting the disease would be far, far worse than the effects of the vaccine.
Did you know that kids attending Ontario schools need to show proof of certain vaccines? The reason? To protect our kids’ health and reduce risks of disease outbreaks in schools. You can read more about immunizations on the Public Health Agency of Canada's site, too.
I know it's a scary world, and it's hard to know for sure if we're making the right decisions, but my choice is to err on the side of science.
Getting your family 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.