I fully vaccinated my own children on time, without hesitation.
The good news is that most parents are just like me. The vast, vast majority of my patient families happily bring their children to the office for routine vaccines.
During these visits, families often offer the reasoning behind their decision to vaccinate. For some, the decision is fueled by cousins fighting cancer or grandmothers on chemotherapy. I hear about international adventures to jungle depths and mission work in undeveloped countries. Many parents vaccinate their children simply because they know it's the right thing to do.
I love hearing families share these carefully considered, powerful reasons that they choose to protect their kids. But after the (few) tears and the formality of the visit have passed, the importance of this health milestone seems to slip away. The stories seem to be boxed up and quieted, and this action of dedication to our children stays behind a closed exam room door.
The honest, thoughtful reasons why we vaccine our kids deserve to be shared.
"We need have open discussions with maturity and not shy away from conversations that may save lives."
Sadly, there are groups of individuals fiercely determined to undermine the confidence of families who choose to vaccinate by spreading discredited theories and false information. Because of this, families exist who are in need of support from their friends and loved ones, the people they trust, to reaffirm this critically important parenting decision. We should no longer allow any parent to be pulled down by popular meme, but to continually elevate ourselves to the highest level of critical thinking, scientific merit and mutual devotion to the health of our children.
We must stop underestimating the cost of our silence.
From our book clubs and board rooms to Facebook and Twitter, each of us are part of living, dynamic networks of friends and families. Within those real-life and digital spaces, what we choose to share carries the potential of great influence among those who admire and respect our choices. This connection strengthens our mutual responsibility; ensuring our parenting decisions are sound, trusted, and consistent.
Those of us who have made the choice to vaccinate need to gather the collective courage to speak out for what we know to be true, that vaccines are life-saving interventions that protect the most vulnerable. We owe it to other parents to stand together for something that not only protects our own children, but also our schools, churches and cities. We need to have open discussions with maturity and not shy away from conversations that may save lives.
Now is the time to take action.
During National Infant Immunization Week, share your vaccine story using the hashtag #whyIvax.
Editor's note: This is fifth in a series of "AAP Voices" blog posts highlighting the importance of vaccine-preventable diseases during 2016 National Infant Immunization Week.