I have a few stories about vaccination and immunisation. My dad had polio as a small child. I saw the lifelong effects this had on him. I saw pictures of him wearing callipers and heard stories about the many operations and his long stays in hospital. Now that I have my own children, I’m very relieved that polio is something that we can now prevent. It’s amazing to think that parents no longer have to worry about this cruel disease thanks to immunisation. I was not vaccinated against chicken pox as a child. It just wasn’t done then. My mum used to send me to stay with friends or invite them to sleepover if they had chicken pox so that hopefully I would get it. I never did and this caused me a lot of stress in my later life.
My partner and I tried assisted reproduction and IVF for years to have a baby. At one point we changed clinics and I had to have my immunity to chicken pox tested, and even then I still wasn’t immune. I had to put further IVF cycles on hold for three months while I had two doses of the vaccine and then a blood test to see if I now had immunity, but I still did not. We went ahead with further IVF, understanding there was a risk if I became pregnant and was exposed to chicken pox. To our delight, we were successful. Then at my work we had a child contract what we thought was chicken pox. He was not vaccinated; his parents are conscientious objectors. My close contact with this child and his mother meant I had to have blood tests and be monitored in case I contracted chicken pox, as this could affect my baby. Thankfully, as it turned out, this child had another illness. All the stress and worry that we went through – not to mention the extra medical costs and the time of the midwives and doctors, was totally avoidable.
During my current pregnancy, both my partner and myself are about to have the whooping cough vaccine to help protect our little one. I want to make sure that my children have the opportunity to grow and develop into the people they are destined to become. This means allowing them to engage in experiences that let them grow, challenge and extend themselves, knowing that they have a loving nurturing supportive family. And immunisation is part of that.