As a current public health doctor, ex-paediatrician and a mother I believe that vaccines are the best gift we can give our children and even better the health service gives them to us for free, something we may take for granted but people in many other countries aren’t so fortunate. If my sons first birthday hadn’t been on a Sunday he would have had his 12 month vaccines on that day, because you never know when they will be exposed to infections so it is really important to get them vaccinated as soon as they are due for them.
I also firmly support breast feeding and healthy eating, but they can’t protect your baby effectively against potentially fatal infectious diseases, like vaccines can.
I still remember the anguish of young parents when their only child died aged 2 years from Hib meningitis in the hospital I was working in as a junior doctor. She had been vaccinated as a baby, but this was before it was known that a booster dose at 1 year was necessary, so her immunity had waned and she died very quickly when the disease took hold of her. Her death contributed to the introduction of a booster dose of the vaccine at 1 year, which means that Hib disease is virtually never seen now, but it could come back if immunisation rates drop.
I also remember the extreme care of a father for his son aged about 10 who had SSPE, a rare complication of measles. They were from Eastern Europe originally so probably couldn’t have accessed the vaccine for him and so he had contracted measles some years before I met them. His son was very slowly dying because SSPE causes progressive deterioration of the brain and there is no cure.
These children losing their lives to potentially preventable infectious diseases and the devastation that the death of a child leaves on the families left behind made me want to dedicate my medical career to trying to ensure vaccine rates were as high as possible so this wouldn’t happen needlessly to other families.