Why I Vaccinate My Kids And You Should, Too

There’s been several stories in the news the last couple of days about the public being exposed to preventable diseases like the measles in grocery stores or on public transit. The pockets of “isolated” outbreaks of disease we routinely vaccinate for are becoming less and less isolated and more and more frequent.

This enrages me.

Look, I know that parents need a lot less judging in this world but this is one subject where there isn’t a gray area. There is right and there is wrong. The science proves it. The research shows it. Childhood mortality rates prove it. It’s not an opinion. It’s a FACT. And the fact is that vaccinating children saves lives and not vaccinating them doesn’t.

Have you ever looked up what polio is like? Or measles? Or diphtheria? Or pertussis? They’re horrible illnesses that killed hundreds of thousands before the advent of vaccines. Children and adults alike suffered through horrible, nasty, debilitating sickness that often left them with life long effects. And that was if they were lucky. If they weren’t, they died terrible, ugly deaths. Why do you think scientists and researchers spent so much time looking for a way to prevent them? For funsies? No, because too many parents had to bury too many babies.

These diseases are not gone from the world – far from it. We’ve simply managed in this country to control the contagion long enough that most parents have never personally witnessed what it was like before we could vaccinate against these diseases. That is a TRIUMPH of public health, by the way. But because of this, too many parents are focused on the vaccines themselves and whether they cause autism or are dangerous to kids or contain terrible ingredients. People seem to have completely lost focus on the fact that the risks of vaccinations are INFINITESIMAL compared to the risk of contracting and suffering or dying from these illnesses.

I know, I know – herd immunity will save us! WRONG. Herd immunity only works if the population is vaccinated at a rate of AT LEAST 80%. For some diseases it’s higher still. That means the vast majority of children need to be vaccinated and continue to keep their vaccines up to date if we want to protect people with herd immunity.

And who are we trying to protect? People with frail immune systems, like the elderly. People who are immunocompromised in some way, like cancer patients, and can’t get vaccines as a result. Newborn babies who are too young to be vaccinated. Premature babies who have to wait even longer to be immunized. These are the people we are trying to protect with herd immunity. Not little Suzy down the block whose parents are just CERTAIN that she’ll get autism if they don’t refuse vaccination.

So, why do I vaccinate my kids? I vaccinate them because I love them and want to protect them from all the bad things in this world it is in my power to protect them from. Vaccinating them in one of the easier ways of doing that. I want them to live full, healthy lives free of disability that results from contracting polio or some other horrible illness. I also vaccinate them because, frankly, I’m not an asshole. I care about my community and I care that my children don’t somehow carry disease to my neighbor’s new baby or the cancer patient we encounter at the store. I care that I do my part to maintain public health.

I do it because it’s right and because not doing it is wrong.

So, folks, vaccinate your children. Keep their vaccines up to date. Keep yours up to date as well. Don’t be a dick.

P.S. – How to vaccines cause autism? This is how.

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Busily Churning Along

Lately, I’ve had things I’ve wanted to blog about and just haven’t found time or energy to make it happen. It seems like this happens to me almost every winter – we get through Christmas and settle into the long, dark nights before spring arrives and I just hunker down and try to survive until then. It’s never pretty, folks.

Anyway, since I do want to write about some things, let’s get down to it.

1. School – For both the kids and me, this is going pretty well. Liam brought home all A’s for his second quarter of the year and continues to forge ahead with third grade. Jamie is doing great at preschool – though I realized today that he has only around 2 more months of preschool before he DONE with it. His teachers feel he’s doing well, both with kindergarten readiness skills and with the social aspects of school. I registered him for kindergarten the day after Liam’s birthday and this week I had a meeting with DART and the school district to discuss the transition from early intervention services to school based services. I don’t think it’s going to be much of a huge deal. He’s really only down to some articulation issues that require some extra support (k’s and g’s, man. K’s and g’s). I expect the school speech language pathologist will see him at most once a week and he’ll get DART services through the summer before school starts.

I’m rolling along in my classes. Computers is dry, dry, dull, and dry. It’s not useless information but the text makes me want to snore. That thing will cure even the worst insomnia. It takes real concentration for me to read and absorb it because I just want to tune out. Healthcare Delivery Systems has no text – it’s all lecture slides – and it’s getting more interesting the further into the class I go. Certainly I’m finding the information more useful. Medical Terminology is the meatiest and most interesting of my classes. It’s a lot of making flashcards and memorization and exercises for practice so it’s pretty time consuming. That said, I also love learning all that stuff. (Did you know there is an INJECTABLE erectile disfunction drug?! That’s some kind of desperation.) I did get all A’s on my midterms, though, and am carrying an A average in all three classes. I just feel like I need to push more so I can complete them faster.

2. Jamie – oh Lord. Where do I start? He is such a challenge for me to parent. Stubbornness and contrariness IN SPADES. A complete and utter lack of patience as well. I know the stubbornness will serve him well later in life. He’s not likely to give up if something is hard for him. But right now? It’s sucking the life out of me.

The worst thing is this: Jamie has a habit of becoming frustrated in nanoseconds. I think this is partly the age, partly his personality, and partly his speech delay. The problem is that if he doesn’t get what he wants or he is upset about what someone (usually his brother) is doing around him he SCREAMS. Now, I want you to imagine the worst, most terrifying blood-curdling horror movie scream. Have you got it? Next, imagine it’s at the perfect pitch to physically hurt your ears.  Got that? Last, make it REALLY LOUD.

That’s what Jamie does when he’s pissed. Approximately 80 BAJILLION times a day. And we’ve tried everything we can think of to get him to knock it off.

We’ve tried logic. (HA! He don’t need no stinkin’ logic). We’ve tried cajoling. We’ve tried telling him to knock it off. We’ve sent him to him room. We’ve taken things away (bedtime story, other privileges).We’ve tried pointing out and praising his good behavior. None of it seems to make any difference to the next time he’s frustrated or pissed. If he isn’t mollified immediately, he shrieks.

It’s terrible between him and Liam, especially in the morning when the kids are getting ready for school. I get up and within 20 minutes, I’ve broken up 3 fights and told Jamie to knock it off a dozen times. Sometimes it’s Jamie being oversensitive to the slightest thing (“He’s touching me!” – literally, he’s said this). Sometimes it’s Liam doing things he knows will upset Jamie. Now, I can tell Liam to stop being an instigator and once I’ve made it clear that I’m onto his antics, he’ll knock it off.

Jamie, on the other hand, will have none of it. He also tends to make entire mountain ranges out of the tiniest of molehills to get himself all bent out of shape. So, not only is he frustrated and shrieking, but the thing which has affronted him literally did not occur.

All this to say that I’m stumped, folks. I feel like I’m failing him as a mother. When he and Liam are separated Jamie is pretty even-keeled. He will still have his moments but it’s easier to get him to keep himself under control. I hear nothing but good things from his teachers – he behaves, he’s helpful, he doesn’t scream and yell. But put he and Liam together and it’s like dumping two pounds of pure sodium into a kiddie pool full of water. KA-BOOM.

In fact, remember the show Animaniacs? Remember the segment called Katie Ka-boom? Jamie is Katie Ka-Boom.

At this point, I’m just trying to be consistent, consistent, consistent with him. Refusing to accept the shrieking behavior and sending him to his room a lot while trying to recognize and praise the times that he behaves well. I’ve gotten to a point where I’m just hoping that the repeated application of a board to his head (in the figurative sense) will make it sink in. I am also hoping that kindergarten will change things because I suspect he may be bored. So, got any ideas?

3. Winter – Winter can go fuck itself. The only thing it’s been good for is that I get some cardio while shoveling out the driveway. We’ve now had so many snow days from school that they’ve used up the allotted amount and had to schedule a make up day. The last few days have been warm enough to trigger significant melt off and today was warm and sunny enough to open a window and enjoy the glorious fresh air. I’m sure this is a sign of an imminent apocalypse. When it snows again I’m going to lose my mind. Zoloft, take me away.

Life hasn’t been all bad/stressful though. I’ve gotten to spend some time alone with Scot, including a dinner out last weekend. I got to see the fabulous Dawn of RedPenMama fame for a coffee date. I’ll be seeing the Veronica Mars movie next month with a big group of people and I’m really looking forward to it.

And now, the dogs are being rambunctious and it’s almost time for Liam to go to bed so writing is becoming difficult. So, I will leave you with a picture of my poor, short spaniel after romping in the chest high (on her) snow.

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Picture Perfect

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, get ready to read a novel. I have a whole bunch of stuff I’ve wanted to share but have been lazy about getting off the camera.

Christmas tree with presents

Christmas tree with presents

Stockings left by Santa

Stockings left by Santa

The destruction after opening presents.

The destruction after opening presents.

Scot got a wookie robe for Christmas.

Scot got a wookie robe for Christmas.

Outside Phipps when we went to see the Winter Flower Show at night.

Outside Phipps when we went to see the Winter Flower Show at night.

Also at the Winter Flower Show. These things changed color.

Also at the Winter Flower Show. These things changed color.

Scot does his best Vanna White.

Scot does his best Vanna White.

Eleanor Grace Rigby Roosevelt-Taylor

Eleanor Grace Rigby Roosevelt-Taylor

My Valentine's nail design

My Valentine’s nail design

I finally got around to making me look like me again. I dyed my hair. Subtle change but I'm back!

I finally got around to making me look like me again. I dyed my hair. Subtle change but I’m back!

This is how my kids play in the snow.

This is how my kids play in the snow.

This was Liam's birthday cake. I was pretty proud of it. It's festive!

This was Liam’s birthday cake. I was pretty proud of it. It’s festive!

 

Nifty Nine

Here we are on Groundhog’s Day once again and today we celebrate Liam’s ninth birthday.

What an amazing and awesome kid I have, you guys. In his eighth year he earned a black belt, continued to pull in straight A’s at school, became more independent, and had too many other accomplishments to name them all.

He is sensitive and caring. He is sometimes fractious and temperamental. He is smart and loves learning. He’s handsome and outgoing. His classmates voted to give him a “Positive Person” award at school for being helpful and kind.

Can you tell I’m bursting with pride?

He’s starting to turn into a mini-adult and it’s happened so much sooner than I thought it would. Parents have so few years to shape and mold their children into good, caring people. I hope that we’ve taught those things to Liam. I hope we can continue to instill them in him. I hope that we can guide him through the upheavals of the pre-teen and teen years.

For all of his growing maturity, he still likes a good hat, though.

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Happy Birthday to my first baby, the boy who made me a mother. May Year Nine be as magical and wonderful as possible!