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I saw the look of shock and horror on your face when I told you that my baby is not vaccinated. I heard your condescension, and your censure, and I noted that you suddenly reduced your vocabulary to elementary school level to explain to me that my child is in grave danger because of my decision to say no to vaccines. I tolerated not one, but three tests for pertussis over the course of a week because you insisted, my baby is sick, the test is non-invasive, and I'm not unreasonable. I didn't even comment when they all came back negative, nor did I express my frustration that you were so invested in ruling out sometimes vaccine-preventable illnesses (even though she had no symptoms of any of them) that you ignored other more common illnesses as likely causes for our visit today, delaying an accurate diagnosis.
I saw you, and I listened to you, but now I would like for you to see me, and listen to me.
When you asserted that it was dangerous for my children to be unvaccinated, I politely disagreed, and when you continued on to insist that I reconsider in a rather insulting manner – even berating me in front of my children for my “foolishness” – I thought that perhaps you had made some incorrect assumptions about me.
1. I am not an idiot. Please don't talk down to me, or at me, but with me. You have gone to medical school, but I am the expert on my children. I am the one who knows them best. I'm the one who checks on them at night, who kisses owies and reads stories, who notes unusual medical symptoms and behaviors, and they are my responsibility. You and I do not share a profession, but that does not mean that I am stupid, or that I said no to vaccines due to ignorance.
2. I am not lazy. I didn't forget to get the shots, nor did I just decide that skipping them would be easier on all of us. I didn't avoid vaccinations because I didn't feel like taking my kids to get them. I chose not to vaccinate because I did the research. I read about the ingredients, the manufacturing process, the side effects, and the package inserts. I read about the risks versus the benefits of vaccines, and after careful consideration I determined that the vaccines would be more of a risk than a benefit for my children.
I would assert that it is far easier for parents to just do what their doctor says, without question, and vaccinate without any investigation. Instead of the more common, easier path, I spent countless hours investigating vaccines and made my decision based on facts. Please don't assume that I am a lazy parent. I did not avoid the decision, I made it carefully.
3. I love my kids…which is why I choose not to vaccinate them. I'm not an uncaring parent, and I don't want my kids to be ill. My choice to research in the first place was rooted in love and the deepest desire to protect my children from harm. I am 100% convinced that vaccines can be harmful. Another parent may be convinced otherwise, and that's ok. But a parent's medical choices for their children are not an invitation for your judgment on their feelings towards their children. Choosing to avoid harmful substances in vaccines is not neglect, and should not be treated as such.
4. I am not a liar. I did not make up the story about my oldest unvaccinated daughter getting pertussis when she was ten months old from a vaccinated child, nor am I fibbing about how my daughter recovered nearly a month before her vaccinated playmate. I am not fabricating the ingredient list for vaccines. But please don't take my word for it. Please do vaccine research for yourself. Just as I don't swallow everything you tell me without questioning, I don't expect you to accept my statements without checking into them. That's fine…but please don't treat me like I'm a storyteller. You can check it out for yourself.
5. I am not a never-vaccinate mom; I am a not-vaccinating-now mom. While I truly believe that the routine vaccination of infants is harmful, I am not opposed to the idea of vaccines. If my children choose to get vaccinated when they are adults and capable of making an informed choice, I would be totally ok with that. If we travel to a foreign country and need vaccines to be safe, I'm ok with that too. If a vaccine comes out that I feel is safe, or even more beneficial than risky, I'm not opposed to vaccinating my kids. I do not want my babies injected with a cocktail of chemicals, and I recognize that in some cases the vaccination is riskier than the disease. But I do believe that there may be a time and place for vaccines — I just know that that time and place is not right here, or right now, for my child.
These are my kids, and while your job is to present options and discuss possibilities, my job is to decide what's best for them. I appreciate the work that you do and the care you provide, and I ask that you acknowledge that I play a much larger role in my child's life than you do. I am the parent, and I have made a carefully-researched, informed choice.
I know you have a difficult job, and I know you must see neglectful parents from time to time. It can't be easy for you. But please remember that I am paying you to provide a service. I am relying on your expertise to help me to keep my kids healthy. But as a consumer who is utilizing your services, please realize that I can just as easily pay to go elsewhere.
If you truly do not want non-vaccinated kids at your clinic, I truly do not want you for a doctor.
A Non-Vaccinating Mom
PS- And please pass on a huge, sincere, heartfelt thanks to your colleagues who may ask a few questions but show respect for me and my choices for my kids.