Life is Like a Box of Chocolates…
“You never know what you’re going to get.”
I believe this famous statement from Forest Gump is so frequently recited because it speaks the truth. We all have unknowns in our lives. No matter how much we try to control them.
Today, as I sit at my computer, next to an enormous heart-shaped box of chocolates, I can’t help but think of this quote. I have just discovered that my cherished Valentine’s gift was recently ransacked by – I suspect - my youngest daughter, (who I saw sneaking a piece of chocolate on her way to the bus stop this morning). I notice the empty spaces where some of my favorite nut varieties would be. And I discover a half eaten piece with mystery nougat pouring out – discards from my daughter when she realized the bitter taste of dark chocolate.
As I look upon my half eaten box, my surprise turns to gratitude. Instead of being upset, I’m actually grateful that she has saved me from myself (the last thing I need right now is more chocolate, especially before breakfast!). And I realize, once again, that all my children have managed to steal my heart – both literally and figuratively. I simply could not imagine my life without them. And my biggest fear is that I may one day lose them from something I have no control over.
I guess this is why I find the vaccination conversation so intriguing. We know that a small percentage of parents are so fearful about vaccines that they choose not to vaccinate, all while exposing their children to a greater risk of problems that can occur as a result of contracting a disease. We also know that the overwhelming majority of parents realize that these dangerous diseases can be unpredictable and that it’s best to simply help prevent these diseases by getting them vaccinated.
But then there are those unfortunate parents whose children are too young to be vaccinated. They intend to vaccinate, but before their child is old enough, they fall victim to vaccine preventable diseases.
Well, because when it comes to public health, we’re all like a big box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get; when disease is going to spread and who it’s going to spread to.
Like it or not, one person’s decision can have a direct impact on the health of another. Which is why vaccinating parents are concerned about the decisions of others not to vaccinate.
Earlier this month, I read a touching story about a precious five-week old child named Everlee. Her mother, Emily provided details of how Everlee contracted pertussis and suffered for weeks in the hospital. Through an unfortunate series of events, Everlee’s nine-year old sister sat next to a child with pertussis in her school. It’s suspected that the highly contagious bacteria likely traveled home on her clothes, where she unknowingly infected her too young to be vaccinated sister.
No, she is not paid by a pharmaceutical company. No, she is not speaking out against personal liberties. She is simply trying to prevent another child from suffering the way her Everlee did.
Despite the fear and uncertainty her family has endured through this ordeal, Emily is quick to admit that she is very fortunate. Everlee’s story is a good one. Everlee was lucky to recover. But Emily knows that it could have ended up much worse. Emily’s memories of Everlee could be bittersweet.
Which brings us back to that box of chocolates. As parents, we never know what we’re going to get, so why not take every necessary precaution?
If I had put my box of chocolates out of my six-year old’s reach, I may still have more candy to treasure.
Parental vaccine decisions may be personal, but they impact entire communities. Immunity protects everyone; including those who choose not to vaccinate, as well as those who can’t be vaccinated. By vaccinating we can help reduce the spread of pertussis and various other diseases. But those who refuse to vaccinate must acknowledge that they are contributing to the spread of these diseases to some of the most vulnerable members of our society….such as little newborn babies like Everlee.
Sadly, even this may not change their mind. But perhaps they might stop to consider…that these diseases certainly do pose a serious threat… and you just never know what you’re going to get.