Parents have the choice to not vaccinate their children. However, if you are considering not vaccinating, we encourage you to carefully consider the risk to your child and the community, and seek out evidence-based information when making that choice. (Anecdotal stories are not the same as scientific fact.)
Even if your doctor strongly recommends vaccinating, and you choose not to, don’t assume they are not willing to talk with you about how to protect yourself and your community. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend medical providers dismissing families who do not vaccinate.
We don’t either! We do hope parents will give credible scientific evidence much more weight than they give anecdotal information from the web, though.
Still not sure, or don’t have a traditional medical provider? No problem. Some of our local naturopaths appreciate the enormous impact that vaccines have had on public health. They are willing to talk to you about vaccinating an older child, and some even provide vaccines in their offices.
Or maybe you are a parent who was uncomfortable vaccinating your baby, but are more at ease about vaccines now that your child is older. You are not alone. Since it isn’t really a pleasant task, you will probably keep putting it off. If that is you and you need some motivation, check our local statistics page.
Things to Keep in Mind if You Choose Not to Vaccinate
- If you are pregnant or have a young infant in your home, please vaccinate yourself, grandparents, and any siblings for pertussis (TDap). Grandparents who have not had pertussis boosters are often the unwitting carriers of pertussis which infants cannot be immunized for. Cocooning is not always a successful strategy, but may help prevent pertussis in infants some of the time.
- Anytime your child is ill and you need to call 911, visit the emergency room, or visit a doctor’s office or clinic, tell the medical staff that your child has not received all the vaccines recommended for his or her age. This protects your child and others and it alerts providers that they may need to look for signs and symptoms of childhood diseases that are not commonly seen.
- If you child has had some vaccines, keep a record handy since you may not remember which vaccines if you are under stress and your child is ill.
- Please do not attend chickenpox or measles parties. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases on earth and can be very serious in your child and dangerous to others. There are many children in our community who cannot be immunized or have compromised immune systems. You may not know who those children are, and spreading a contagious illness which may be minor in your child may have serious consequences for another. There are always a small number of vaccinated children and adults in the community who may have never mounted a sufficient immune response to some diseases.
- Please don’t send your child to school or camp it they have a fever or are generally ill.
- Be prepared that if there is a measles outbreak, unvaccinated children will be asked to stay home for as long as six weeks.
- If you are a health care worker, teacher, day care provider or work with children or the elderly in any capacity, we strongly encourage you to keep up your vaccinations. The current pertussis vaccine does not provide life-long immunity, and boosters are needed. Check with your doctor or local public health office about getting a booster and being part of protecting our most vulnerable community members.
Thinking It Through
One family choosing not to vaccinate is more significant in our community than others. So many parents have chosen not to immunize their children that our herd immunity is below the threshold of providing protection.