How to Protect Your Child Against People Who Aren’t VaccinatedMarch 4, 2020
Vaccination has become a hot topic over the last few years and can be especially important for parents in cities where measles outbreaks have returned. We all make decisions regarding vaccines that we believe are the best for our children individually, but it can feel scary when we know that others in our community are not participating in herd immunity. We’ve pulled together some information to understand vaccination, and what to do in case you’re not sure everyone in your child’s life is vaccinated.
Why are vaccines controversial at all?
Childhood vaccines are a powerful medical tool to increase children’s antibodies to protect them from harmful and sometimes deadly diseases. Many diseases we vaccinate for are rare in the Western world, in large part due to the success of vaccines. A now disproven 1998 study sparked a dangerous rumor linking the MMR vaccine with Autism. Since then more rigorous research has proven vaccines are safe.
Who does and does not have to be vaccinated?
New York was home to the largest measles outbreak in 2019, which propelled the topic to the front of parents’ minds. There are some laws in place in NYC now, which indicate that all children enrolled in pre-kindergarten, nursery school, day care programs, or Head Start must all be vaccinated with one dose of MMR. Children enrolled in K-12 are required to have two doses of MMR. Notably, there is not a requirement for teachers, day-care workers, or in-home child care providers! We believe it’s a reasonable question to ask of your child’s carers, so that you have all the information up front. Additionally, children under the age of one are unable to be vaccinated, and therefore rely on herd immunity from the rest of us to keep them safe.
What do I do when I know someone in my child’s life is not vaccinated?
Talk to your pediatrician! This should be your first step, and they will likely be well versed in having this conversation. The bottom line is, the most important thing is making sure your child’s immunizations are up-to-date. That will keep them safe beyond anything else! For parents of children under one, it can be trickier. Keeping an eye on the news to watch for outbreaks, talking to your friends with older children to ask if they vaccinate, and staying out of public places during an outbreak are all options.
Don’t forget about yourself and other adults!
Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents—they should all be vaccinated too! We often forget about ourselves in the conversation around vaccines as we are so focused on protecting children. Talk to your doctor about what vaccinations you should continue into adulthood, and ask your family to do the same!
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