Why I’m A “Woke” Mom Who Vaccinates

My generation (millennial) may go down as the generation of mediocre trophy winners, but we certainly will not go down as the most spoon-fed generation. We ask questions. Lots of them. And why wouldn’t we? With the onset of the internet in our youth, we are the generation with more access to almost anything, who can speedily search for the answers to any questions we may have.

In essence, we are not the generation who believes everything we’ve been told. Because of this, when word started spreading through the masses on social media that vaccinations were being linked to the phenomenal number of new autism cases — many of us had questions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 5% of U.S. children under age five are not vaccinated for various reasons. After reading plenty of peer-reviewed reports and coming to my own decision, I swore I would not vaccinate my kids when I decided to have children. And then, when the two little telltale lines showed up on my radar, I knew I’d eventually have to put this decision to the test.

I was eight to nine months pregnant during flu season when it came up for the first time. Would you like to get the flu shot today? It’s free for all our patients.

“No,” I replied. “I don’t get the flu.”

Well, you should be prepared in case it should happen.

“No, thanks,” I asserted.

As the monthly doctor appointments turned weekly, the question persisted:

You should really think about getting the flu shot today.

“No, thank you.”

We have a preservative-free version for our pregnant women.

“No, really. Thank you.”

One week, I almost conceded. The nurse handed me a tote bag for accepting the vaccine. When I changed my mind, she all but yanked the bag out of my hand. Closer to my due date, the doctor used scare tactics:

Five newborns have died because their mothers opted out of the vaccine.

“No. Thank you,” I insisted.

He lingered and told me I was his only patient to refuse. He was truly disappointed. During the same time, news chains reported a measles outbreak originating from Disneyland. Of the 70 people affected by the virus, only five were fully vaccinated. Fear kicked in and I finally got the flu shot. Everything was fine. I did not get the flu. My son was born perfectly made.

When his eight-week wellness visit for his first round of shots came up, my partner and I didn’t even hesitate about the decision to vaccinate him. I looked into this tiny being’s eyes and knew I would take every possible measure to protect him and not risk anything that could harm him.

Now he’s 2 1/2 years old and mowing down every milestone. For us, vaccines were as obvious a decision as breastfeeding is for some and formula feeding is to others. We would take the risk that errs on the side with the most chance of protection. We would make the decision that felt right for us.

As a parent, I can only attempt my version of the best, if only for him.