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Asking Before They Play: How to Handle the Response

July 23, 2014 6 comments
In the first part of this series, Ask Before They Play to Keep Chickenpox, Pertussis and Measles Away, Dr. Zibners explores why a parent might be concerned if their vaccinated child has unvaccinated playmates.  In the second part, Are Your Child’s Friends Vaccinated, she provides tips on how to pose the question to others.  In this final post she offers suggestions on how to respond when the answer isn’t exactly what you were hoping for.

 

DrZibnersPart Three: Handling the Response

By Dr. Lara Zibners

In parts one and two of this series, I’ve been equating a conversation about firearms in the home to one about immunization. Both can be awkward but both are very, very necessary. But suppose the answer isn’t the one you were hoping for.

You take a deep breath and spit it out: “Do you keep a loaded gun in the house?” If the answer is yes, there’s another conversation to be had: “Where are they kept? Are they secure? Where is the ammunition? I meant a revolver, not your staple gun!”

In the same way, you may want to open the conversational door about vaccines. What if the answer is

“Oh, no, we don’t vaccinate”

Do you panic? Jump to conclusions? Grab your child and run screaming?

No. Obviously not. My kids are numerous (3) and heavy (nearly 90 pounds combined). I can’t run anywhere. But besides that, it’s best not to start the conversation by assuming that every unvaccinated child has parents who are unwilling to vaccinate. If you find out that your child’s best friend hasn’t had his MMR vaccine, don’t turn away just yet. Take a deep breath and ask one simple question: Read more…

Asking Before They Play: Are Your Child’s Friends Vaccinated?

In the first part of this series, Ask Before They Play to Keep Chickenpox, Pertussis and Measles Away, Dr. Zibners explores why a parent might be concerned if their vaccinated child has unvaccinated playmates.  Today, she offers suggestions on how to pose the question to other parents. DrZibners

Part Two: Posing the Question

By Dr. Lara Zibners

As kids get older, they naturally start wanting to go play at other people’s homes. As parents, we should encourage this developing independence, shouldn’t we? Not to mention the few hours of freedom we can selfishly steal from the arrangement. Yet it’s a little scary, watching them walk into another house. Another environment. Another set of rules. How do you know it’s as safe as the one you’ve created in your own home?

The answer is that you can’t always be certain. The other parents might be more relaxed about some things, more uptight about others. I, for one, am fully aware that my “two ice cream bars each and that’s it, people!” is a bit liberal for many of our friends. Then again, the way I freak out, hysterically screeching when I see a latex balloons being brought into our home…perhaps others view that reaction as inappropriate. But from my standpoint, I’ve never cared for– let alone heard of– a child who was killed by an ice cream sandwich. The latex balloon? Right. Number one non-food related fatal choking hazard. The point is we all have our priorities when it comes to the safety of our kids.

Photo credit: M. Danys

Photo credit: M. Danys

As a parent, when you decide that it is a priority to limit your child’s contact with unvaccinated children, that’s absolutely within your right. Please know that you aren’t alone if you are nervous or worried about upsetting or offending another family by asking about vaccine status. But it’s important and simply has to be done.

But what do you actually do? How do you ask? Blurt it out? Casually drop a line into the conversation? Tell a hilarious story about the last time little Bobby went for his routine immunizations and watch the reaction? It can be awkward. Especially if you haven’t given it some thought.

But it’s something you really need to think about. It’s fine to decide in your mind that you don’t want unvaccinated children putting your own at risk. However, it’s another thing to put those feelings into words. As an example, the Ask campaign has done a great job of raising awareness about the dangers of unsecured guns in homes with children and encourages parents to inquire about the presence of firearms in the homes where their children play.  Why can’t vaccine status be a similar conversation we have with other parents? Read more…

Ask Before They Play To Keep Chickenpox, Pertussis and Measles Away

July 15, 2014 15 comments

Part One: Why Ask at All?

DrZibners

By Dr. Lara Zibners

 “Oh, you know, we never had baby gates, because, you know, of the controversy.”

This was the response I got from a mom at a playgroup after some random conversation about safety. Our house had a flight of stairs just off the living room that was 16 wooden steps ending directly onto a slab of stone. So we had baby gates at either end. The story was likely the one about me installing these gates and then calling the company to find out how to open them. They were that good. Anyway, it made perfect sense to me that small children + long staircase + stone floor = potential significant injury. Until that exact moment, I was unaware there was a “controversy.”

Yet, apparently this other mother had read something about boundaries and teaching children to respect the staircase from behind imaginary walls. Which would then in turn help them develop self-control. Whatever. To my mind, having your frontal lobe all bruised up after a flight down a staircase would also create long-lasting issues, so I went for the option with an immediate safety return.

If you look between the lines of this exchange, you can see that it’s not so different from finding out that this mother was a vaccine-refusing parent. Her philosophy about parenting was so incredibly different that mine, and her ideas seemed so far out there, that I had no answer for her. Just a smile and a nod. (And a snarky comment about traumatic brain injury—I couldn’t help myself.)

Is that really so different from mentioning your child’s flu shot appointment and being met with a response that implies (or flat out says) that the flu is not dangerous and actually good for building their natural immunity? Those of you who are convinced that immunization is the most effective way of protecting your children from a variety of preventable and life-threatening illnesses have already made peace with this decision. If, on the other hand, you’ve chosen to vaccinate but still have questions than I suggest you continue to hang around sites like this. The more you learn about the scientific evidence that supports immunizations, the more certain you will be in your decision.

FosterKidImageBut what do you do when you find out about parents who have made other decisions?  What do you do when you discover your child’s best friend is unvaccinated? Should you care? After all, is it any of your business?

Read more…

From Avoiding Vaccines to Getting A Child Caught Up: Where To Start?

people-217251_640We often receive personal inquiries about immunizations, especially on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page.  While people realize that it’s best to seek the advice of a licensed medical professional, and we always encourage them to do so, many parents also appreciate hearing from others who may have some relevant insight.  It helps to know that our parental concerns are reasonable and that others have successfully overcome the same obstacles that we are facing.

In the case of one particular family, their immunization questions center around a major shift in their philosophy.  They once actively avoided vaccinations, but have now decided to get their two young children caught up on the recommended vaccines.  However, they are overwhelmed by all the considerations this will require.

While there is a catch-up schedule designed to bring unvaccinated children up to date, they wonder if their plan should consider the fact that there are disease outbreaks in various parts of the country and they also have a new baby on the way.  Until their doctor is able to provide more specific guidance, they’ve reached out to our immunization community for words of wisdom, understanding and encouragement. Read more…

Why Dr. Offit is the Coolest Scientist I Know

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Dr. Paul A. Offit, MD on many occasions. In getting to know him over the past four years I’ve come to the conclusion that he is, hands down, one of the coolest scientist I know.  So last night, after hearing his latest interview excerpt on Comedy Central, I made a short countdown of the top five reasons why I admire Dr. Offit.  

Reason #5:  He gets it. And better yet, he can explain it.  

pauloffitWhen I first met Dr. Offit he was speaking at the official launch of his book, Deadly Choices, in Washington, DC.  He stood at the podium and casually answered a variety of questions from a curious audience.  In addition to being a world-renowned expert in the field of vaccines and epidemiology, I immediately recognized that he is also adept at communicating complex scientific information in a way that any lay person can comprehend.  As the Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, he continues to work directly with patients and their families, some of whom are hesitant or even fearful of vaccines, which is what makes him so effective at addressing their concerns.  This is perhaps one of the leading reasons he is featured in countless interviews and videos that address everything from the most common questions people ask about vaccines, to details about current immunization related research, recommendations, and disease outbreaks.   

Helping people to understand the importance of vaccines is very cool, but doing it so effortlessly is even cooler.   

Reason #4:  He just keeps going and going and he doesn’t back down.

Read more…

Mother’s Day Lost

May 12, 2014 1 comment

Christine Vara:

Today we highlight a new blog called Vaccines Rock, which is part of a new national campaign from Meningitis Angel’s called “Don’t Wait 2 Late 2 Vaccinate!”

The blog will feature immunization news and information for teens and adults so that they can understand how best to protect themselves and their children from vaccine-preventable diseases. While this particular blog will address all diseases and the vaccines available to prevent them, it will have a strong focus on meningococcal and pneumococcal meningitis.

The first post was written for Mother’s Day by Frankie, a mother who lost her son to meningococcal meningitis. Her story reminds us that although parents want to do everything possible to protect their children, they may not be fully aware of all the available vaccines that can help them to do that.

Originally posted on Vaccines Rock:

Ryan and mom

Mother’s Day Lost! Vaccine could have prevented it!

Another Mother’s Day is about to come and go. It’s 3 a.m. in the morning and once again sleep is replaced with tears, memories and another dreaded Mother’s Day lost. Because of a vaccine preventable form of meningococcal meningitis, I face another one without my only child’s voice to speak his love, his arms to hug and his life to share.

As I sit here and write, my mind goes back to a time when a tiny little baby boy would climb into my lap, bottle and blanky in hand and say, “sing me Elvis mommy.” I would sing Elvis songs, mostly “Love Me Tender” until he fell asleep in my arms, this beautiful gift from God that brought me so much joy.

His life all in front of him, it seemed like only days before he stood before me a young…

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