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I'm a Vaccine-Wary Mom

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I am what you would call a “vaccine-wary” mom. I am neither pro- nor anti-vaccinations. Instead, I am a mom who worries. One who worries about the potential drawbacks of vaccines, while also fearing the risks of not complying.

I am just a mom who worries.

I am also an educated woman. I have a college degree and a deep appreciation for science. I like to be informed and have therefore read up on nearly every vaccine my child will ever receive. I weighed the pros and cons, and after a great deal of mommy research I decided my daughter will receive all her vaccinations.

She will just be receiving them on an extended schedule.

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My reasons for spacing her vaccines are numerous, but the short version is that I just feel more comfortable giving them to her one or two at a time rather than four or five at once. For the most part, her pediatrician has been supportive of this choice. I think she might think I’m a pain, but she seems pleased at least that I am still vaccinating.

And I am. Even though I am also the mother of a little girl who has experienced an adverse vaccine reaction.

We aren’t talking about fussiness or fevers here. No, we are talking about my daughter essentially contracting rotavirus from the rotavirus vaccination. She is one of the 10 percent of kids who went on to experience over a week of terrible stomach issues after receiving the live rotavirus vaccine. On day five we found ourselves at the emergency clinic, her poor little bum raw from having the small amount she was eating continue to run straight through her.

The doctor we saw was very kind. She explained that this reaction was actually quite common, and wrote a prescription for treating the resulting diaper rash which had now turned into a strep infection—something I hadn’t even realized was possible. She then addressed my vaccine wary fears, talking to me like an educated woman and going down the list of pros and cons for each vaccination still to come.

I have to know. I have to be informed. I need to understand.

She was honest with me about the ones she felt could probably be avoided, as well as those she deemed to be absolutely necessary.

In the end, it was a conversation that put my fears at ease, even if only just a bit. It occurred to me that this is the way the public and medical community should be talking to moms like me; not as though we are crackpot conspiracy theorists who need to be shut down, but as if we are the educated and concerned mothers and parents we often tend to be.

Many of my pro-vaccine mommy friends couldn’t tell you what is in the shots their children receive, or which ones contain live viruses and which are littered with other ingredients. Most couldn’t explain the perceived effectiveness of each inoculation, or the risks involved with each and every needle prick. They simply choose to trust their doctors, never questioning what they’re told. And truthfully, there is nothing wrong with that if it works for them. I might even be a tad envious of those who choose simply not to know, and therefore not to worry. But that is not how I am built. I have to know. I have to be informed. I need to understand.

In the end, it becomes about analyzing the risks versus the benefits. For me, I understand the risks even while embracing the benefits. For other parents, the risks become too scary. And I can understand that. I can see how they would slide that way. They have usually done their research and gathered their information. For them, the risks just seem too great.

Convincing them otherwise isn’t accomplished by degrading or shaming. It serves no purpose to shut down or silence their voices. In my experience, they often have valid points to be made and reasons for their fears. Painting them as careless or stupid gets nowhere, but addressing their concerns and approaching them with care just might.

Most parents are just doing the best they can, making the decisions they believe are right for them and their families. The animosity toward those who choose to delay or abstain completely accomplishes next to nothing. It only serves to further the divide.

I am a vaccine-wary mom, situated somewhere in between both my pro- and anti-vaccination friends; I hold a daughter recovering from rotavirus, contracted by the vaccine which was meant to protect her.

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She probably would have gotten it anyway. Somewhere down the line, it is an illness she likely would have come into contact with. On the list of vaccines I have considered skipping altogether, this was actually never one I pondered avoiding.

And that just goes to show you—we have no control.

I am a vaccine-wary mom.

But that doesn’t mean I should be dismissed.

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