Sometimes, science has the last say. In this case, one outspoken anti-vaccination mom is unfortunately dealing with the fact that all three of her kids contracted rotavirus, a painful illness that can cause diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration after choosing not to vaccinate them. Your mom was right, it really is better to be safe than sorry.
Kristen O’Meara, a teacher who lives just outside of Chicago, decided not to vaccinate her three daughters when they were born. However, she has now changed her mind after her daughters (who are all under the age of 7), and she and her husband, contracted rotavirus. In an interview with Good Morning America, she admitted fault:
“I put my kids at risk. I should have taken more time to research both sides. I scoured everything I could possibly find about why vaccines might be harmful. I became pretty convinced.”
Of course, I’m not writing this to “out” or shame O’Meara, because we all make our own choices based on what we think is best at the time, but to raise awareness to just how vital vaccinations and proper treatment really is. Just because we don’t always see the devastation viruses can cause doesn’t mean we should assume the consequences aren’t real.
According to a recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the number of doctors encountering parents who have refused their child vaccines for non-medical purposes has increased 74.5% to 87% between 2006 and 2013. That’s kind of crazy. While we often think that we have the world’s knowledge at our fingertips because of the internet, we also have to remember not to solely rely on it for health concerns. You should always talk to a healthcare professional when it involves making major decisions, like whether or not to vaccinate your kids.
Because of this, O’Meara’s children are now fully vaccinated. The entire experience, however, has left her feeling guilty for putting them at risk, which she wrote in a New York Post article called “I was an anti-vax crackpot”:
“I’m frustrated with the amount of misinformation I encountered when I set out on this journey. But in the end I am thankful, for the sake of Natasha, Áine and Lena, that I was able to reassess my position and accept information that is based on well-established, sound scientific evidence.”
You can watch the whole interview with her here.