I just took Ryan to his 2 month checkup. Anna came with us, so I carefully explained that her baby brother might cry at the end because the nurse is going to give him a needle, and I told her- in easy to understand kiddie terms- what a vaccine is and why he's getting it. I knew I had to go over this information with her ahead of time because I didn't want her to be freaked out. Let's face it- vaccinations can be a scary and upsetting situation for kids and parents alike.
Like any mom who had a baby after Jenny McCarthy, I'm always hyper aware of the possible outcomes of vaccinating my kids. Checkup day is nerve wracking. Every time a nurse hands me the paperwork about the vaccines she's about to give my child, I shudder a little at the thought that drug companies could be in cahoots with big business and not have the best interest of my child in mind.
My sister is a nurse at CHOP, and I've heard the other side too many times. The heartbreaking stories of kids being admitted deathly ill with some sickness that could have been prevented with a vaccine. I ultimately decided that I'd rather have an autistic child over the alternative----
However, that is my personal decision. I'm not here to pass judgement on how or if parents choose to vaccinate their children.
So here we are in the era of playdates. I don't know about you, but when I was little, we didn't do playdates like they do 'em now. Red has been playdating since she was 2 months old! Park trips and play zones, mall walks and house dates, beach trips and birthday parties--- you name it, we've playdated the heck out of it.
Now Red has a little brother. My little Italian stallion is just shy of 3 months old, and he's getting his feet wet in the playdate circuit, which this means he's maxin' and relaxin' with Red's friends' little siblings. But Red's friends are in the mix.... and they're older... and older toddlers and preschoolers love little babies.... they love love love to touch their piggy toes and bellies and faces... So this raises the question- Do I need to be aware of who is vaccinating in my circle of friends?
I asked my pediatrician, and her response was a whole-hearted "YES!" She confirmed that until the little man has gone through his full list of vaccines, he is at risk to contract illnesses from unvaccinated carriers. She further explained that this new wave of non-vaccinating parents is throwing old ilnesses back into the mix that haven't been as problematic for years, so an older child can be a carrier of some illness that my not-yet-3 month old would easily pick up. I asked her how I'm supposed to find out who is vaccinating and who isn't? She smiled sympathetically and said "Well, that's the tricky part, isn't it?"
Again- let me stress this point- I am not passing judgement on parents who don't vaccinate. It is a personal choice, one that no parent takes lightly.
I am just raising the question- Do parents who don't vaccinate have a moral obligation to disclose that information to parents they playdate with, especially if very small, not fully vaccinated children are present? Or, I suppose the flip side is the question--- How do you go about asking a new friend if they vaccinate their children?
"Our older kids are the same age! We should do a play date!" Mom 1 might say.
"Yea, that sounds great!" Mom 2 would respond, And then--- what??? Follow up with "Btw, is little Timmy vaccinated?? 'Cause I got a baby here, and, you know... just lookin' out, know what I mean?"
What are your thoughts? Would you ask a new friend if they vaccinate their children to protect your best interests? Or, on the flip side, are you a parent who chooses not to vaccinate and finds this to be an invasion of privacy?