I lost my son to bacterial meningitis one day shy of his second birthday. I would give anything for him to have had the vaccine that is currently available. No child should die from an illness that is preventable.
–Sabrina McNeil, Ashland, Oregon, mother
Visit The Dylan McNeil Foundation Website
When my daughter was about 1 year old, there was a lot of discussion in the media about the safety and potential side effects of vaccines. I became concerned and decided to learn more about the pros and cons of vaccines. In reviewing reputable resources and discussing my concerns with my pediatrician, I found the advantages far outweighed any potential side effects, and the question then became, how could I not vaccinate my child? As any reasonable parent, we want to protect our children. Vaccines are the best preventable care we have to protect against disease, and I fully welcome and endorse all vaccines now.
I delivered both of my daughters at Ashland Community Hospital; my first, Baylee, in 2004 and my second, Kendall, in 2006. I breastfed both of them for nearly two years each and vaccinated my children on a regular schedule until the year 2010 when my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism. I had read articles in the media, and heard from some of my friends who did not vaccinate their children, that vaccinations could have caused this “disorder” in my daughter.
Around the same time I was researching vaccinations, the actress Jenny McCarthy was widely promoting her book about her son, her choice not to vaccinate, and autism. I was convinced not to vaccinate my daughters anymore. We were only about 2 weeks late with their next vaccination appointment when I reconnected with my friend Sabrina on Facebook. She had lost her son, Dylan, to meningitis. I read everything on Dylan’s website, cried, and then followed the link on his website to another website about children and adults alike that had died from vaccine-preventable diseases. I made the appointment with my doctor in Ashland who was willing to have a long discussion with me about the importance of being fully immunized. Both of my daughters have continued to stay up to date with their vaccines to this day.
As a mother who has a daughter with autism, I don’t believe that there is enough concrete information to suggest that vaccines could have caused my daughter to have autism. When she was born, before any vaccinations, she would shake her tiny hands in front of her mouth. We even tried to take a picture that I still have because this was unusual compared to the other babies we were around. This has now evolved into the stemming that she does, which is an indicator for autism and autism spectrum disorders. She is 9 years old.
I urge everyone to vaccinate their children. I don’t ever want to have to say goodbye to my babies and forever regret not doing something that could have saved their lives.
–Amy Heywood, Southern Oregon mom
An Ashland Parent’s Story
When our first child was born, we chose to follow the basic principles of the alternative vaccine schedule proposed by Dr. Robert Sears–no more than two vaccines in one visit and only one new vaccine per visit. We moved when our first child was 6 months old and changed primary care providers several months after we had resettled. These disruptions caused us to get very far behind with our first child’s vaccinations. In our experience, ages 3 to 5 are the worst time for kids to get shots, and we had to give our son way too many vaccines during that challenging period. With our second child, we completed the vaccination schedule with much greater ease and timeliness.
I believe that promoting full immunization is in the best interest of public health. We need to protect the health of all babies and children who cannot be vaccinated. While I have no regrets about following an alternative vaccine schedule, I do regret falling so far behind with our first child’s vaccinations. This created unnecessary trauma when he had to receive shots, and it left him vulnerable to diseases that pose small but very real risks to a young child’s health. Now that my children are older, I feel it is essential that we contribute to herd immunity by maintaining current immunizations.
My son Pete was diagnosed with a Pineoblastoma (a very rare and aggressive brain tumor) just before his 2nd birthday in 2005. This diagnosis gave him only 5% chance of survival. He underwent several surgeries to biopsy in order to remove his tumor. Then we began treatment that lasted a year and included several different types of chemotherapy drugs and radiation. Of course these poisons administered to Pete were to kill his cancer, but they also took a toll on his little body. There were many times his blood counts were so low that his immune system wasn’t able to protect him at all. During these times, it was super scary because he was extremely susceptible to catching any type of illness. If we went out, Pete had to wear a mask to try and put a barrier between him and the outside world. People would look at him and step away like they thought they would catch something from him. Yes, Pete had received his appropriate vaccinations. But I don’t think people understand that when they choose not to vaccinate their children, they are not only affecting their own families, they are also putting others (like Pete) at risk. While Pete was on treatment, we knew several families who lost their children, not because of their cancer, but because of illnesses they caught while their immune systems were compromised from their treatment.
Pete is now 10 years old, healthy, cancer free and his immune system is protecting him again. But there are countless other children just beginning the fight for their lives. Herd immunity is the only way to protect these kids.
–Kellei Martin, Talent, Oregon, mother