“Coming out” about your vaccination decision

You’ve found out you’re pregnant, you’ve done your research and you’ve decided to have a vaccine-free, natural baby. Great! There’s just one small little problem….

You’ve now also unknowingly (or not?) joined a minority group of informed parents who are not following the crowd when it comes to vaccination. This might lead to some uncomfortable conversations in your due-group, at family gatherings or when visiting friends, as you’ll find out soon enough that, unfortunately, not everyone will be very supportive of your decision to not vaccinate.

I have to admit that hubby and I struck it pretty lucky in the family department. Even though we were both vaccinated as children, both sets of parents were very supportive of our decision to not vaccinate their grandson. Then again, we could probably both run off to the circus and our parents would still support us! They are wonderful examples of unconditional love. Most of my non-vaccinating friends have not been so fortunate when telling their family and friends that they will not be vaccinating their child(ren).

I decided to ask these friends what their experiences have been around this topic and most suggested not telling anyone your child’s vaccination status, unless you’re asked directly, as you may well end up losing family and friends over your decision. I have personally lost three friends due to being a non-vaxer and I can truly say that I’m glad it has happened, as it has really shown me who my true friends are. In the words of Dr Seuss, “those who matter don’t care, and those who care don’t matter.”

It is important to remember though, that most family and friends are simply expressing their concern because they have not taken the time to research the vaccination issue for themselves. Treat them as you would like to be treated yourself, i.e. respect their point of view, but realise that you don’t have to agree with them. If they have researched the issue and are still giving you a tough time for your decision to not vaccinate, you could always say “I fail to see how injecting heavy metals, foreign proteins, multiple viruses and many toxic substances into a tiny baby all at one time can keep them healthy, can you explain it to me?”

I have a couple of friends who are very confident in their decision to not vaccinate, however when it comes to talking about the subject with certain people (eg. a scary mother-in-law!) they find that they “freeze,” especially if their decision is being questioned in a confrontational manner. If you happen to be one of those people who avoid confrontation like the plague, then I would suggest keeping a copy of the IAS’s brochure, “Investigate before you vaccinate,” handy (I always keep a few in my handbag).

Copies of the brochure can be printed from the IAS website: http://www.ias.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/ias-brochure-2011.pdf. Should you get into a situation where you are under pressure to “defend” your decision, simply hand the person in question a brochure and let them know that some of your reasons are covered in the brochure and that you do not wish to discuss the topic any further. Otherwise, grab their email address and let them know you will email them a copy of the brochure (or other relevant information), but don’t feel that you need to get into any lengthy discussions as it really is nobody’s business whether or not you vaccinate.

Sometimes, a little white lie can come in handy when you are just in no mood to discuss your personal decision with a nosy person. “We’ve decided to hold off on the vaccinations for a while and we may decide to catch up with them a bit later on.” You could also say “we are still in the process of researching the pros and cons of vaccination and will come to the decision together as a family.”

One thing that all my non-vaccinating friends agree on is this: surround yourself with other like-minded, non-vaccinating families to get the emotional support you need. When you’re going against the grain it can become a pretty lonely road but for me, personally, it has been very rewarding seeing my 100% natural baby thrive.

At the end of the day, always remember that you do not have to justify your decision to not vaccinate to anyone – that includes your doctor, your family, friends or strangers. New Zealand’s Bill of Rights states that we have a right to refuse any medical procedure – that includes vaccination. So, if you ever get to the point where you’ve had enough of defending your decision to not vaccinate, a simple “my decision is not up for discussion” will do.

And finally, I received a great email from someone recently which read “people who vaccinate their children out of fear or ignorance, do not have to justify their decision – you don’t have to either!”