I'm a woman of science. Well, as much as someone who received horrible grades in biology and chemistry and took precisely one anatomy course in college can be. But I like science, and I believe science, so there was never a question as to whether or not I was going to vaccinate my kids. But even so, between personal worry and a campaign of misinformation, there were things I thought I had to do for my kids' vaccinations that were, in fact, completely unnecessary.
I am a skeptic, you guys. I approach everything in life with side-eye and suspicion. Blame it on my natural salt content or the fact that I lived in New York City for a good portion of my adult life, but it's who I am. People can approach me with a smile and a hearty "good morning" and I'm like, "What? What do you want? What's the catch here? I suspect you're probably awful. I'm going to speculate about what your deal is on my group text."
But vaccines? Vaccines are cool. I am pro-vax, and make no apologies about it. But you can still be pro-vax and second-guess yourself, want to know more, or just be straight-up misinformed. So with that in mind, here are some of the things about my kids' vaccinations that, it turns out, were NBD:
Spiral Into A Panic Until They're Old Enough To Be Vaccinated
The world is a contaminated, germ-filled, horrifying place, and some of those germs are extremely scary. So the thought of bringing a vulnerable infant into that world without the protections that will eventually be available to them is stressful. That said, most of the scariest of those germs are pretty rare — thank you, vaccines and the fact that about 99 percent of people are vaccinated! — so while you do want to be cautious about bringing your baby around large crowds in confined spaces, you don't have to keep them in quarantine until they're fully inoculated, either.
"Do My Own Research"
A little extra knowledge is never a bad thing, and I encourage everyone to understand everything a little bit better. But when it comes to vaccinations — their safety, efficacy, and the pros (not dying of polio) and cons (possibly dying of polio) — the research is pretty unanimous.
Look, if you enjoy poring over Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pamphlets, medical studies, and ingredient lists from assorted pharmaceutical companies, then you do you. But unless you are also a scientist a lot of this information most likely means nothing to you anyway.
And sure, you can certainly find a bunch of Google results that tell you how awful and dangerous vaccines are, but you can also find a bunch of Google results that every member of Congress is an alien installed by the Illuminati and want to turn everyone gay. Not all sources are created equal, people.
Consider An Alternative Or Selective Schedule
On the surface it sort of makes sense, and I definitely thought about the argument.
"Do you really need all those vaccines? And, if so, why don't you just space them out?"
But you do need all those vaccines, and you don't space them out basically all major medical bodies in the United States recommend getting as thoroughly protected as soon as possible. The alternative is, in fact, leaving your child more vulnerable to more diseases for longer. The current CDC schedule has been proven safe and effective and the arguments in favor of an alternative or selective schedule is based on junk science and fear.
Gird Myself For Every Visit
Because your kid won't get shots at every visit. Sometimes they'll get a bunch (or what feels like a bunch), and sometimes they won't get any at all. So look up their shot schedule before you take them to the pediatrician and avoid panicking for no reason.
You don't need to come up with an elaborate ruse to trick your children into getting their shot. Once my kids got old enough to discover what going to the doctor meant, I sometimes felt as though I had to come up with wild schemes to get them to the doctor and ease them through their various shots. This really isn't necessary, even for needle-adverse kids like my dramatic son. (This is mainly because I've yet to find a trick that actually works or makes anything easier.)
Prepare My Kids For Weeks
I didn't start out with such chicanery. I tried to be a good, progressive, thoughtful, respectful parent, but I quickly found out that preparing them too far in advance made matters worse because it built up their stress levels and made them unnecessarily dwell on their shots and how bad it was going to be in their little toddler minds.
My sweet spot tends to be, like, two days before their appointment. It gives them time to get used to the idea but not overthink it too much.
I was so embarrassed when my child hid under an exam table to avoid getting his shot. And then I remembered that there's absolutely no chance that was the first and only time a pediatrician has encountered that level of hot mess.
And it's not. It never is. Vocalize your appreciation for their patience, but don't feel embarrassed. They're medical professionals who work with children, so you can bet there is nothing they haven't seen before.
"My poor baby! They're crying! They're hurt! They're so sad! I've betrayed them!"
Nah. They're going to get over it in 10 seconds and if they don't they're almost certainly just being extra. You just made sure they don't get pertussis. After they dry their little eyes they should thank you.
Justify My Decision To Anti-Vaxxers
Just, no. If they're not talking to you in good faith then feel perfectly free to brush them off. And if they will not be brushed off then escalate to shutting them down.
You don't need to explain yourself to anyone, least of all people who are more interested in promoting their agenda than listening to what you have to say.
Prepare For Horrible Side-Effects
Vaccines can have side-effects, although most are minor (a fever, a rash, some crankiness, diarrhea) and are typically infrequent. Sometimes my kid would get a little whiny after shots, but it was never anything too terrible and didn't last more than a day or so. But I heard so many horror stories I was all but prepared to take weeks off work to tend to an ailing child. And, of course, that was never necessary.
This is so not a big deal, guys. In fact, in regard to effort and outcome, this is one of the best return on investments you can get as a parent. Enjoy not having to deal with diphtheria.