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So, we have all heard it. Watched news reports about it. Read endless posts in our news feed about it. The topic I am referring to, vaccinating our kids.

And, it’s been a hot topic for a while now. But, it’s on fire since the recent outbreak in the US of MEASLES!

So, here we are. This current measles outbreak has created two camps, those who are angry with the choices parents have made to not vaccinate and those who are angry that they are being persecuted for not vaccinating.

This argument has been ugly. In fact, it is full-fledged war between these camps. Unvaccinated parents vs vaccinated parents.

It’s an ugly battle because it deals with our kids. And, regardless of what camp you belong to, our kids are our entire world. Any question as to whether or not we are protecting our kids or any threat to the protection of our kids creates an emotional surge that flames white-hot in every parent.

Things are out of control. Some parents want to sue other parents if their child gets sick from an unvaccinated child. One doctor recently said he would not treat any kids who were not vaccinated (uh, that’s a violation of the Hippocratic oath, by the way). Some parents insult parents who have not vaccinated their kids, saying they are bad parents. Some parents want the schools to mandate all children be vaccinated. Some parents are saying just dumb things like, “if your child is vaccinated why are you worried about mine being around yours. Guess you know the vaccines don’t work, so why would I subject my child to it anyway”. Okay, I tried, I really tried to be more objective but that is a dumb comment and one I have seen a lot recently!

So, we are flooded with heated emotional arguments supporting choices from each camp. Heated emotional arguments that do nothing but place blame. Heated emotional arguments that swallow the issue and solve nothing. Heated emotional arguments that propagate more anger and ignorance and end friendships and partnerships (like the doctor, I referred to above, with his patients).

Has anyone said something to the effect of, “Hey, folks who have decided not to vaccinate your children because of personal, philosophical beliefs or unfounded medical fears, come. Come and discuss. You are by no means bad parents for having made that decision over the years. You, like any parent, want the best for your child. You want to protect your child against every evil in this world. And, you do it by weighing the costs and benefits of your decisions and actions. Because you are a good parent. Let’s have this discussion again in light of the recent events and outbreaks and let’s be sure your decision is still the best one”?

I haven’t seen that type of invitation on social media. It certainly wasn’t an invitation by the doctor who said he wouldn’t treat unvaccinated kids. I don’t think the educators have doled out this invite to their communities. The news reports don’t suggest much to this effect either.

Mostly, what we have seen is a lot of the blame game. And, I don’t know about you, but, nothing raises my hackles like someone questioning my actions as a parent. That’s what’s happening to those parents who have made the choice to not vaccinate. They are being attacked. The foundation on which they built their child’s safety and well-being may be starting to crumble with the recent circumstances.

What we need to do, as friends, family, and communities, is open an honest discussion about vaccines, without the blame game.

Let’s just go over a few facts. The measles vaccination was implemented in 1963, per the CDC. Prior to the vaccine being developed millions, MILLIONS of people contracted the virus each year. A fraction of those people died, many were hospitalized and some developed brain swelling after the virus ran its course. http://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/faqs.html

In 2000, the measles were considered eradicated in the US. ERADICATED. I am not a doctor nor am I a genius, but I think we can all put 2 and 2 together and get 4, right? The measles vaccine is doing a very good job. And per the CDC, after the two recommended doses of the vaccine, it is about 97% effective.

Okay, fact-mongers, those are just the facts. Not opinion.

Here is the opinion, as a parent, I feel that the benefit of having my child LIVE, live without measles is worth the cost of low incidence side effects. No discussion about links between vaccines and developmental issues, because, ultimately, keeping my child alive is my goal. I cannot gamble with her life on unsubstantiated claims that are not recognized by the medical community. Done.

There are some children who cannot be vaccinated. Medically fragile children, children who are allergic to the vaccine and newborns. These are the children that the vaccinated community protects beyond themselves. These are the children that are at risk by the unvaccinated community.

These medically fragile children in addition to your own children are the reasons why this conversation should occur again with the families who have decided to not vaccinate. A conversation, not a blame game.

Let’s be clear. Choosing to vaccinate for the measles is not the same as choosing to vaccinate for the flu. Two different illnesses, two different success rates, two different side effects. Perhaps, for many parents, two different choices.

As parents it is our duty to protect our children. There will be changes in how we protect them as we journey through life. I urge all parents who vaccinate their kids, to please stop persecuting the parents who have not vaccinated their kids. We all make decisions for our children because we think they are right at the time. Share that you disagree and agree to disagree.

At the same time, I urge all parents who have not vaccinated their kids, to sit down and have a good talk with a trustworthy doctor. If you trust your doctor to manage your child’s pneumonia, ear infections, surgeries, you should trust having a conversation with him/her about vaccines. You can discuss things related to vaccines with your child’s doctor like, success rates, documented side effects, risk percentages, alternate schedules for administering vaccines, omitting some vaccines you feel are not worth the risk, etc.

Please, let’s not have these two camps spit fire at each other forever. Let’s sing a little kumbaya on the common ground of keeping our children healthy.