As many times as Toddler in Chief has watched the episode "Blue goes to the Doctor," taking him in for vaccines is about as fun as scraping my knuckles along a cheese grater. Even though his pal Blue got the shot with hardly a whimper, my son screams, sobs, and projects sounds of assorted frequencies. Plus, he's two, and he just doesn't quite grasp the concept "it will hurt, but it's good for you." He can't understand why Mom and Dad hold him down while a stranger in a lab coat jabs him with large needles. It just sucks for everyone.
Yes, there's guilt from letting my kid spend a few minutes in the life of a pin cushion, but imagine the guilt if he ended up in the hospital with a preventable disease, like Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, or Measles. Giving your kid vaccines keeps them healthier. And parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids are taking unnecessary risks with their kid's health, and even their lives.
It's true that many of the diseases that we vaccinate against are rare. For example, there has been no case of Polio in the United States for more than 20 years. Still, it is prevalent in other parts of the world. Currently, there are outbreaks in Yemen and Somalia, and the World Health Organization launched a polio immunization campaign on September 13, to slow its spread.
No, my kid isn't going to Africa or the Middle East anytime in the foreseeable future, but if there is a chance--any chance--that my kid could acquire this or any other debilitating and life-threatening diseases, then I'm going for it. This goes for every possible vaccine, even if it means a few minutes of tears. One can argue that there are risks associated with vaccines and it's just not worth it, especially when the diseases are rare. But I'm not taking any chances.
Just as I slather my kid in sunscreen, use antibacterial soap, and marvel at that surface made from recycled tires that has replaced cement at the playground, I'm grateful for any advances--medical or otherwise--that keep my kid healthy and out of harm's way.