Thursday, March 31, 2011

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?: There is NO question.

Today while Madi's teacher was here, we got on the subject of school.  Madi will be entering a school-readiness preschool program in the fall if all continues to go well with her medication changes and she has had no rejection episodes.  (How did she get to be five friggin years old already?!?!  Yeesh!)
Like any other parent out there, I have my concerns.  Will she miss me?  How will I do with her away from me?  Will she make friends?  Will she finally have tamed her urge to pick her nose? (Dear Lord, please!)
Most importantly, though, I have serious worries about things that most parents never think twice about.  It all comes down to vaccines.
I know, I know.  It's a heated debate no matter who you talk to about the issue.  I, for one, see no harm in vaccines at all-in fact the opposite is true.  Not vaccinating is what's so dangerous.  This year in Minnesota, there have been twelve reported cases of measles.  Twelve.  That's unacceptable.  Now there are whispers of polio showing back up on the scene.  What next?  These are all almost completely preventable diseases.  Why risk your child getting something that could seriously sicken them, put them in the hospital, cause them brain damage, or even kill them?  As a mother who has paced the halls of the PICU till there was practically a groove worn in the floor, take it from me: you do not want your child to have to be there.  For any reason.
In Madi's case, it's vitally important that the people around her are up to date on her vaccines.  Due to her medications, her immune system is compromised.  This is to prevent rejection of her heart, and while it poses some risks, it's necessary for her to live the best life she can live.  Because of this, she cannot receive any vaccinations that are live.  This means that she cannot get the chicken pox vaccine, or the second dose of MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) that most kids have gotten.  We will be forced to rely on what we call "community immunity."  In essence what that means is we are counting on others around Madi to be able to ward off the disease; thereby protecting Madi from something that her body is not protected from.  It's like when a herd of elephants gets attacked and all the big elephants surround the little ones. 
Transplant is a serious change in how we live our lives.  Something that may just make you or your kids have a simple runny nose can kill her-and a lot easier than some may think.  Somehow, someway, we have to figure out a way to ensure that when Madi is in school, she will be in a classroom where all children are up to date on all vaccinations.  I am not sure how that will work due to all the privacy laws out there, but I am sure the docs from the Mayo Clinic will have to be on board somehow.  To ease other parents' minds, and mine.
When Madi does go to school, I am sure I will be dubbed "That Mom."  As in, "that mom" who is always asking when the last time your kids were sick was, and breaking out the hand sanitizer.  Yep.  That'll be me.  But it's a duty I am fully ready for. 
We have fought too damn hard to get where we are today, and there's no way I am going to let anything stop me now.  Please read up on vaccinations at the CDC's website here and get educated before making any rash decisions on whether or not to get your kids immunized.
You will be equipping your child for the battle against an army of ugly diseases.  Offering them the best protection you can.  You will also be protecting those out there, like Madi, who don't have a choice.  And for that, we say thank you.

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