To the Editor:
How distressing to read that so many Vineyard parents have opted out of immunizing their children. As a new mother a dozen years ago, I too flirted with skipping the shots, or delaying them. A conversation with our pediatrician set me straight. He’s the one who went to medical school, after all.
In years since, everything that I’ve read confirms the importance of vaccinations. The science is compelling, which ought to be enough for any rational person. But if someone needs more convincing, may I suggest history? It wasn’t that long ago that meningitis, diphtheria, polio and other diseases circled the lives of our predecessors on dark wings, carrying children away at a rate that we seem to have forgotten. Is our societal memory so short?
To smugly refuse protection against these diseases is an insult to the parents of yesteryear, who would have given anything for a simple shot that kept their child in the world.
It’s also selfish, as your choice is cushioned by all the other babies who do get their shots. None of us like watching the needles sink into those plump thighs, but it is definitely preferable to the sight of a child hacking his life out onto a pillow.
Finally, while last week’s article makes clear that an alarming number of schoolchildren are not immunized, I hope these families who eschew vaccinations are also avoiding travel, and that they are keeping away from our libraries and grocery stores. My youngest is eight months old, so he has not yet gotten all his shots and is still vulnerable. I’ll breathe more deeply when he is up to date, and I’d be relieved if more Island children joined him.