Many of us parent by instinct, and that approach works well much of the time. Smart parenting, in addition, is really about conscious decision making; selecting choices based on what we feel is best for our children in the short term and the long term. Decision making starts from day one: Breastfeed or formula feed? Which vaccines and when? Many smart parents like to think of parenting as a "reverse engineering" process - that is, always keeping the end goal in sight. But we also realise that everybody has limited time and resources, so it is all about balance.
Ultimately, our goal as parents is to create the optimal environment for our children. Therefore, it is important to read, read & never stop reading! I have said this many times in my posts and during my conversations with fellow parents, but I can never say it enough. Spare some time to read. What's new, what are the do's and the don'ts!
Be responsible - Vaccinate your child!
There are surely enough data to show that vaccines do save lives and protect against illness. The extent of that benefits may be debatable but it is significant, nonetheless. There are also safety concerns, as with any medications, in that there are not - and never can be- enough data to guarantee the safety of vaccinations in any given individual, especially as they interact with other vaccines, viruses, drugs, food, and that person's specific internal 'environment'. I know this first hand because it happened to one of my closest friends' son. He got sick after his pneumococcal vaccine. Although, his doctor didn't actually manage to conclude whether or not his unwell-being was caused by that.
I also know someone whose kid got sick (he was fully vaccinated) because of something he got from the nursery.
So what are we left with? We rely on our hearts and our gut instincts - backed up with the data and advices from our paediatricians. It has been concluded that vaccines are much likely to benefit our children than harm them and are helpful to the long term health not only for our children but of the population at large. See how responsible we are when we decide to vaccinate our children?
Study shows that vaccines prevent disease and infant deaths every year. Vaccinating your child helps not only your child, but protect others who might be particularly vulnerable to these threatening diseases, such as grandparents, infant siblings, pregnant women or other kids with have low immune system or some sort.
Some debate on how our grandparents and their parents didn't get vaccinated and yet they lived!
That is not entirely true. A friend shared in her Facebook post that her grandfather had a few siblings but only two survived. Even some of us didn't get many of the current vaccines. We missed seven to fourteen days or so of school for chicken pox and some of us will suffer shingles when that virus resurfaces in us later in life. Our parents suffered with us and stayed home from work, too. One in a thousand of our parents' generation who got measles developed brain dysfunction. A lot of kids died in previous eras due to the vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination has promoted a better quality of life and has allowed more of us to survive and have children of our own.
Through vaccines, we can achieve what's referred to as herd immunity, making diseases so uncommon in the environment that some are eventually eradicated. And we no longer need the vaccine. The best example is the global elimination of smallpox. We were very close to eliminating polio until a few countries declined immunisation for a few years, allowing it to resurface in their populations and then spread to others.
There are estimations to how many people to be vaccinated to prevent diseases and deaths. In short, by vaccinating our child, we contribute in preventing unwanted disease on another innocent child and subsequently, prevent death from happening. Especially those who are not responding well to vaccines or worst those children who suffer from allergies towards vaccinations and cannot get vaccinated (although, with close monitoring and a few standard precautions, nearly all children with known or suspected vaccine allergies can be safely immunized; but of course as parents, the risk freak you out and you decide not to go ahead with the immunisations and rely on the herd immunity). You can read about the vaccines allergy here.
I learnt a lot on the many whys we should vaccinate our child at our paed's clinic during my recent visit to get Sophie vaccinated for Chicken Pox. You wouldn't believe the nobel thing we do when we decide to vaccinate our child. Infection often leads to hospitalisation and potentially a host of other exposures and lifelong complications, not to mention that infections put others around you at risks as well.
Here in Malaysia, we are so blessed with such facility provided by the Department of Health - we get to vaccinate our child for free at Klinik Kesihatan which is available at every district. For those un-compulsory/optional vaccinations, you can get them at any private clinic or hospital for reasonable prices. The rates differ based on the institution so shop around and choose what's best for your budget.
And please lah - don't go around complaining that you don't vaccinate your child because you can't afford it. Drop the temptations to eat out, shop for luxury items, change all your furniture for raya, pay for a holiday abroad or own an iPhone - use that cash for your child's vaccination instead!
Be a responsible human being and parent, vaccinate your child!
Here is Sophie's vaccination schedule as reference.