As of Tuesday, June 6, 2017
As a mom who loves her two girls, I’d do just about anything to protect them. Our precious daughters, ages 16 and 11, are the center of the universe for my husband and me. To watch them laugh and play, you would never know these amazing kids have cystic fibrosis and bravely face daily breathing treatments and all the challenges that come with this harrowing disease.
Years ago, our girls contracted another, drug-resistant illness that makes their lungs susceptible to bacteria and further compromises their immune systems. This means that virtually any exposure to diseases like the flu, measles, mumps, pneumonia, meningitis type b or others can turn bacteria in their delicate lungs into the equivalent of rubber cement. That can cause an instantly life-threatening situation resulting in a lengthy hospitalization.
It’s a scary reality. But what scares us even more is that other parents knowingly seek exemptions to allow their kids to opt out of taking vaccines for diseases that can quickly put my daughters’ lives at risk. Choosing not to vaccinate is a parent’s right. I understand the CDC ranks Idaho among states with the most exemptions, but it’s also important for these parents to realize their actions are putting more than their own children in danger.
Not vaccinating your child can expose my daughters and others like them to dangerous diseases, even if they’ve been vaccinated. During a disease outbreak at school, unvaccinated students should be removed to protect the health of others. The schools also need to have student immunization information on hand to act quickly. Parents who choose not to vaccinate, also need to respect the decision of those who have. It seems some schools go to great lengths to provide even greater precautions for much less. An example would be clearing menus of food containing peanuts to accommodate those with peanut allergies.
We are hopeful that vaccination, which is a proven method of disease prevention, can be discussed positively in the future so that all sides are represented fairly.
Regarding our specific situation, we recently spoke with one of our daughter’s classes about her immune system challenges. These sweet children responded by wiping down their tables and chairs and washing their hands more often. The result? Levels of infections and sickness dropped dramatically. This meant so much to us. Keeping diseases at bay will always be a constant battle for my girls, but it is nice to know we live in a world where people do care.
Please vaccinate to protect your kids and mine.
Writing for the Idaho Immunization Coalition, Teea Hillyard is a wife and “mother of two amazing girls” who lives in Ammon with her family.