International Parenting: Vaccination

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There are many hot button issues when it comes to parenting. It doesn’t matter what the issue is but you know you will have one opinion and someone else will have a differing. SEEK has interviewed moms from around the world because we are curious about their cultural and personal views on certain issues.

By Becky Horace

I love this topic! Vaccinations! This is one issue that is sure to upset someone. Growing up my parents did the vaccinations on schedule. I never really thought about vaccinations or anything like that until I was pregnant with my first child. All of a sudden people started giving their two cents (this was almost 5 years ago now) on what I needed to do with my child. Some said “don’t vaccinate! It can cause autism! (I didn’t even know what autism was at this point.)” Some said “don’t be stupid and please vaccinate your kid.” My husband and I always agreed that doctors go to school for a reason. They clearly know more than us about vaccinating our children so I will defer to their better judgement.

We vaccinated our son and he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum but guess what!? We had our son vaccinated with his 18 month scheduled shots at 22 months since we were planning on being back in the USA on a visit. Our son started showing signs of being on the autism spectrum around 18 months (that is the time the behaviors start to show but also the time for the MMR vaccine). Since I knew we were already going through those signs, I knew for a fact that this vaccine 4 months later didn’t trigger it.

Just this week, there have been huge announcements in the scientific field showing that vaccines have nothing to do with autism.

The Journal of the American Medical Association found the following:

“Conclusions and Relevance:  In this large sample of privately insured children with older siblings, receipt of the MMR vaccine was not associated with increased risk of ASD, regardless of whether older siblings had ASD. These findings indicate no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD.”

Let’s not forget the past overwhelming proof that the “doctor” Andrew Wakefield, who made the claims originally lied on his research and was since kicked out of his profession. My favorite discovery this week in this hot topic is that Elmo is now on board and is a supporter of vaccinating children! Click here for the extremely cute video! Alas, there are two sides to every coin; in Australia there is an anti-vaccine group that made this campaign that has many up in arms and equates vaccinations to rape. As you can imagine many people are a little upset about that one.

Like I have said before, people will not agree on any parenting topic and vaccinations are no different. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but when that opinion is causing the lives of innocent children to be lost when has it gone too far? See what moms around the world have to say about vaccinating their children and let us know what you think in the comments section (in the most civil way possible please).

 

Bangladesh

  • Cultural: “In very remote villages the concept of vaccines is still not there but recently NGOs, along with government support, are spreading the importance of vaccinations for babies and children and basic vaccines are a must such as polio drops etc. Bangladesh being a developing nation, education, affordability and availability are a huge concern amongst the masses. Also home births are very bangladeshcommon, so in that case if a village hospital or doctor is not nearby, vaccines are skipped. In recent years that has changed thanks to social workers and NGOs and availability of free vaccinations. Also it’s a very class oriented culture. Hence the lower class masses don’t have the education to see vaccination as important but that is also changing. For the people living in the cities, they have access to doctors and hospitals and all babies are given their basic vaccines upon birth and a vaccine book for follow up vaccinations. Although there is still a tendency among the lower middle class to ignore the vaccinations after a certain stage.”
  • Personal: “My baby was born in Thailand so the basic vaccines were given upon birth. After that we have given all the optional plus required vaccines for him. Had we been in our home country, the situation would be the same as I feel vaccinations are very important for baby’s health and immunity.”

France

  • Cultural: “To my knowledge in France people also follow the calendar given by health authorities, of course as it is in other parts of the world francesome people will challenge it.”
  • Personal: “I simply follow my country calendar and adjust based on the country we live in if there are some important vaccines to do. I tend to listen to my pediatrician, and trust. My view is that vaccines are important and that’s why we’ve been able to have such good public health in most countries.”

Sweden

  • Cultural: “Almost everyone follows the vaccine curriculum. A few do not and they often belong to a particular movement (like the swedenantrophosophers). Recently there has been outbreak of the measles in Sweden, which indicates an increase in people who have chosen not to vaccinate. The theory is that it’s an effect of the mass vaccination in 2010 when a lot of children in Sweden got narcolepsy from the vaccine. Also just a few years ago, all girls from 14 years old are offered a free vaccine for HPV. When it comes to chickenpox most parents send their kids to their friends house who has chickenpox to expose them to it to help them “be safe.” Not sure it´s recommended, but that is what everyone does…”
  • Personal: “I follow the vaccine curriculum. I think it is our responsibility to protect the ones that for different reasons can’t be vaccinated. They are the ones that risk their lives if these illnesses break out again.”

Venezuelaven

  • Cultural: “I have never heard of a Venezuelan mom who hasn’t vaccinated their child, whatever vaccine is available and is recommended by the doctor we don’t even think about it! We just vaccinate them.”
  • Personal: “I’m very Venezuelan in that sense, I vaccinate my child.”

Canada

  • Cultural: “Similar to the US, some do and some don’t.”
  • Personal: “I always thought everyone got their children vaccinated. Just something people did like paying the bills and taking a canadawinter holiday. Evidently I was wrong, given the recent measles and whooping cough outbreaks. Personally, I didn’t really have an opinion on what other people did. I would of course vaccinate my children for preventable diseases. Why wouldn’t you? Now we are going through an experience with my youngest child in which she has had to stop her vaccinations due to leukemia and the chemotherapy she is going through. Her immune system is compromised and cannot develop antibodies when vaccinated. When her chemo is completed in another two years she will restart her vaccinations. And so I have had a crash course in her immunity and the absolute selfishness of parents who don’t vaccinate their children for anything other than medical reasons.”

India

  • Cultural: “I grew up in a country where certain vaccinations are mandatory. In India, we are advised to get the children vaccinated according to the list provided by the hospital.”india
  • Personal: “When I moved to Thailand, I had a French neighbor whose daughter was the same age as my younger daughter and she had convulsions followed by chickenpox. She was admitted to the hospital. I asked my neighbor why she didn’t get the chickenpox vaccine for the kid and she told me that she is totally against vaccinations. That was the first time in my life I heard someone say that. I personally believe in vaccinations and believe that the risk of not vaccinating is far more than the risk of vaccinating. I try to avoid medication for smaller problems and try to use essential oils or other herbs but I don’t think there is any alternative to vaccination. Prevention is obviously better than a cure. I also think growing up in India, not vaccinating a child was unheard of.”

Ireland

  • Cultural: “In Ireland it’s pretty normal for everyone to vaccinate their little ones.”ireland
  • Personal: “Growing up my mom was adamantly against vaccines. She felt they were very wrong and because of that I pretty much had every childhood disease possible. I think that made me seriously consider vaccinating any kids I had as I really didn’t want them to experience going through so much sickness growing up as I did. Turns out with our little one, our doctors told us that with his genetic syndrome along with other medical conditions he’s a lot weaker and more susceptible to being ill and that vaccines were important for him as if he caught any of the childhood sicknesses, it would be quite stressful on his body and have potential for other serious complications. As such we’ve done our best to ensure that all his vaccines are always up to date.”

USAUS

  • Cultural: “I think my culture is mixed. There are those who vaccinate and those who don’t.  Those that don’t either don’t do sobecause of religious reasons or because they have read about potential hazardous impacts of vaccinations.”
  • Personal: “We did, and continue to vaccinate.”

A big thank you to the moms who were able to help us with this interview.

Check back next week when we discuss the issue of when to start school/homeschooling! 

photo by PATH global health CC BY 2.0

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