Mother: tough decision not to vaccinate

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While GPs are disappointed by last month’s revelation that over 200 Nelson babies are not fully immunised, it is not surprising to some Nelson mothers.

One local mum, who spoke to Nelson Weekly on the condition that she remained anonymous for fear of being vilified, decided against vaccinating her child.

Her boy is now 13 months old and has not received any vaccinations.

“Early in my pregnancy, I didn’t even consider that not vaccinating was an option.”

However, she says that changed after talking to other non-vaccinating mothers within the region. “I knew they wouldn’t have made that decision lightly. They’re mainstream people who are highly educated, so I thought it was worth looking into.”

For three months before the birth of her son she solidly researched books, reports, medical journals and articles supporting both sides.

“It is really hard to find good research, there’s so many sensationalised articles both pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine. I looked at both sides and getting through all the jargon and data was quite a battle.”

She researched the efficacy of vaccines, the trial methods, vaccine risk factors, heard immunity and the risks and treatment options available if her son contracted an illness.

“At the end of it, my opposing arguments for vaccinating were longer than my supporting list, so I decided not to do it,” she says.

“I went round and round in circles about whether to vaccinate or not and it’s an ongoing decision, one I will keep revisiting, but unless the pros strongly outweigh the cons I will maintain the decision that I’ve made, but I’m open to changing it.”

After the research, she says she doesn’t think the immunisation schedule works as well as we’re told it does.

“Vaccination doesn’t work for everyone and there are risk factors that can contribute to vaccine injuries, when the chances of contracting those diseases are quite low.”

While her family are supportive, she says this is not always the the case.

“When my boy was really young I was quite open about it. I was almost naive, I didn’t realise there was such a pro-vaccination movement that attacks people who challenge it, but now I see people looking at me sideways and questioning my judgement.

“It’s hard for mothers to ask questions because if they talk to the wrong person they get judged harshly for it.”

She also says social media is the latest area for attacking non-vaccinators.

“People are constantly using social media as a bullying platform, they’ll post articles that ridicule non-vaccinators. There are some out there that liken non-vaccinators to murderers, its absolutely ridiculous…I just wonder if those people had done the research I’ve done, whether they’d comment so violently on the topic.”

Because of the strong reaction non-vaccinators get, she says the subject often just doesn’t get talked about.

“People don’t really talk about it and I find that scarier, because instead of being able to be informed and educated you stay in silence, afraid of being judged. There are still a couple of friends I haven’t told.”

She says theres a lot of stigma attached to the decision and non-vaccinators don’t tend to have a good name because some people make that decision uninformed.

“It’s a deeply personal decision and it’s one thing to make an informed decision not to vaccinate and its another thing to not do it because you hear a scary story, forget, or because you don’t want to put your child through getting a prick by a needle.”

“We’re all trying to do the best by our kids and I just want to encourage people to not be so quick to judge.”

As a patient or parent of a patient, you have a right to be fully informed and make your own choice, and the Nelson mother says she gets really scared when people say vaccination should be mandatory.

“The thought that you could force someone to inject foreign matter into another person’s body is terrifying and where does that stop? Taking away the freedom to make the choice about what goes into their own or their children’s body is a whole other level of wrong.”

To follow previous articles written about vaccination in Nelson, click here and here.