Earlier this week I read a piece on Netmums about the low take up of the MMR vaccine in the UK and how the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies has urged people not to believe social media ‘fake news’ about the dangers of vaccination. I am no doctor and I fully respect that everyone must make these decisions for their own children. I am not here to judge anyone’s parenting choices so that is not what this piece is about. However, I am pro vaccination and thought I would share the reasons why I will always vaccinate my children as I do find it concerning that the levels of vaccination have dropped.
The UK was declared Measles free in 2017 by the World Health Organisation which means that although there will still be cases of measles it is no longer considered native to the UK. This is surely great news as I am sure not many people have getting measles on their list of things to do this week, but the concerning thing, to me, is that the rate of take of the MMR has dropped to 87%. There is a target of 95%. From what I understand this means that whilst a large portion of the population are protected we don’t have a ‘herd’ immunity and that when those from outside of the UK visit or UK residents who are perhaps not immunised come back from a trip abroad with the measles or mumps or rubella then others can also be affected. The stats report that last year there were around 200 cases of measles in the UK. In contrast this year when the take up has dropped there have already been 903 cases. Coincidence? I shouldn’t think so.
The MMR vaccine has now been available in the UK for 30 years and Professor Dame Sally says: “It is a safe vaccination – we know that – and we’ve saved millions of lives across the world’. I believe that this is safe and have chosen to vaccinate all my children. We all also get an annual flu vaccination and the children had all of the recommend NHS vaccinations. Read on for the reasons why I will always vaccinate my children.
5 Reasons I will always vaccinate my children:
I had Mumps and Rubella
Now if I tell you that I had both mumps and rubella as a child and that this was not because my mother was anti vaccination then you will now I am at least older than 30…. I don’t remember Rubella too much so I guess it was not that bad, but I for sure remember having mumps. We were in Ireland at the time visiting my nana and I could only have been around 9 years old, but I remember it vividly. It was so painful that each swallow was just agony and I truly have never felt as awful as I did that week. The only good bit was that I didn’t have to eat the gammon and cabbage and potatoes that I swear were offered up every dinner time (I know love this meal, but it felt like a punishment back then), but apart from that small respite the rest of having mumps was horrendous. So my first reason why I will always vaccinate my children is that I don’t want them to be in pain. I don’t want them to get horrible illnesses if there is a quick and painless (I know it can hurt a bit, but its fleeting) way to prevent it.
Measles can kill
This is a cold hard fact and is my second reason why I choose to vaccinate my children. I watched one of my twins fight for her life at 3 days old in the NICU (not disease related) and it was the worst experience of my life and one that will haunt me possibly forever. I still suffer with anxiety related to it. I would never wish that on anyone and certainly not on my own children and so anything I can do to help protect them and keep them safe from potentially life threatening illnesses I am for sure going to do.
My husband has a missing enzyme in his liver which means that he is prone to infection. I don’t really understand how or why this does increase his risk, but it does and so there is no way that we will ever not have our flu jabs or nasal sprays for the kids. We don’t want to risk him getting ill unnecessarily. We might be able to just bat away the flu, but he may not. Why risk it? I also feel this way for the wider community as not everyone can have their immunisations and small babies, of course, may be too young. I don’t want me or my children to be the reason that another person suffers and so any immunisations that are on the schedule we will have.
Immunised children less likely to be hospitalised
According to a study at the Imperial College London children who have received their vaccinations according toe the NHS schedule have half the risk of being admitted into hospital during their childhood. The chance is considered to be 1 in 4 for vaccinated children and 1 in 2 for those not vaccinated. Again as a parent who has seen one of her children repeatedly have to be rushed to hospital (due to ongoing complications from birth) I would always look to do anything that could help to prevent any more visits. Now, of course, vaccinating my daughter had no effect on whether she needed to go to hospital as she has a narrowed airway and so can have breathing issues. However, knowing that she is unlikely to also have to deal with any of the other childhood illnesses gives me piece of mind around her.
My final reason is that I can’t find a good reason not to vaccinate my children. There is no piece of research that I have found that has convinced me that these vaccinations are not safe. As I said I am not a doctor so all I can do is trust those who are.
I am aware that this is a hotly debated topic and that I am only presenting one side of this debate so I would be really genuinely interested to hear from anyone who has chosen not to vaccinate their children for any reason.