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"As an anti-vaxxer, the pro-vaxxer research only succeeded in turning me away."

“I believed I was doing the best thing for my children.”

Like most modern mums-to-be, I was once pre-occupied with scrutinising every aspect of impending parenthood.

This included whether or not I should vaccinate my children.

Before I became pregnant with my first child, I’d never really given much thought to vaccinations. I was vaccinated as a child. I vaccinated myself against deadly diseases before I travelled overseas, and I agreed to the free flu-shot given to teachers at my work-place every year. I had always assumed I would go along with the vaccination schedule for my future children without giving it much thought.

This was the case until the day someone asked me if I knew what was in vaccinations, and if I was going to exclude my children from receiving them?

"I had always assumed I would go along with the vaccination schedule for my future children without giving it much thought."

It sparked a long and overwhelming journey looking into the vaccination debate, which eventually, and somewhat wrongly, led me to become a staunch “anti-vaxxer”. For the next 4 years or so (and one more child later), I turned away from everything vaccination related. I had made a decision (fully backed by my partner), and I was content with it.

Of course, there were times I had questions and concerns, but the very posts and opportunities that were meant to convince me to support vaccinations, only succeeded in turning me away. They called me a “bad parent”. Those two words upset me and I couldn’t look at, or read any pro-vaccination material without feeling unfairly condemned.

I felt I had valid arguments for my choice and along with most anti-vaxxers, I believed I was doing the best thing for my children.

Even a visit to my local GP to get answers left me in tears when she failed to give me any kind of appropriate information. Instead she chose to condemn me and insult my integrity from the moment I said I was questioning vaccinations.

"My GP left me in tears when she failed to give me any kind of appropriate information."

It wasn’t until there was a meningococcal scare in my area that I re-visited the research. And although I don’t believe vaccinations are completely risk-free, for nothing is ever risk-free, and there are cases where some people cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, I am now comfortable knowing the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the negatives. Both my children are now fully vaccinated.

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What I am concerned about however is how the pro-vaccination movement has chosen to deliver its message. It seems there is a belief that the only way one can promote vaccinations is to shame, blame and attack the very people they want to change. This approach is not effective. It polarises people, and turns the fence-sitters away from researching vaccinations fully.

How are these articles helpful? Who do they think they’re really convincing? People who don’t vaccinate their children don’t think they’re doing their children harm, or that they’re bad parents, or irresponsible members of the community; they believe they are making the best choice.

Telling them otherwise is ignorant, and disrespectful, and simply not going to achieve anything. Nobody wants to be told they’re a “bad parent”.

"Nobody wants to be told they’re a 'bad parent'."

For the record, I appreciate that the parents of children who’ve lost a child to a preventable disease, or those that have sat by the hospital bedside of a suffering child have a lot of anger and blame, and rightly so. It’s completely unfair and horrific for children to suffer.

I believe the only way you can approach the vaccination debate is to educate. The blame approach only further promotes segregation. Post the facts, educate people, but please don't shame those who think they are doing the right thing. Post links to scientific research, encourage more people to ask questions, but don’t treat people like idiots, despite what you might think. We’re all on the same page. We all want to be good parents, we all want healthy children, and we all want to be respected.

No more hateful comments, and no more finger pointing and name-calling. It won’t work. It doesn't work. Trust me.

Do you have a similar story about the decision to vaccinate your child? Share it below.  

Want more? Try:

“I didn’t get a choice whether or not to vaccinate my daughter.”

5 tried and tested ways to distract your kids during vaccinations.

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