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The Vaccine Vortex: What's a Parent to Do?

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Making decisions as a parent is often very challenging. As parents, we stress and worry about how this will affect our children, our relationships with them, their future, their wellbeing, and so many other issues in life. While we sometimes might not have all the facts, we still strive to make the best decision possible. So, what does a parent do when there are so many competing “news facts” and “opinions” about a specific issue, like, let’s just say, COVID-19 vaccines? (I know, I know, this is such a calm, undebated, non-issue.) How in the world can parents navigate the “mess” that is this issue, to make the best decision for their child?

Information, misinformation, facts, and opinions flood the media, social media, and daily conversations for just about everything in our world, but nothing has shown this more clearly than the current pandemic. People argue about the “latest development,” the YouTube “doctor,” a website their friend found, the latest CDC guidelines, or the latest new “cure” for COVID-19, and share, post, repost, and comment on things that may or may not be legitimate.

Each person has become a junior detective and expert that has a “corner on the market” of facts, usually meaning facts that support an opinion they have formed. As these things are shared, with each new development, discovery, and change in policy, a cacophony of noise fills the airways and screens with all sides shouting that their evidence and conclusions are the ones to follow.

Now, the vaccine, which has become a hot button of its own, is now available for parents to get for their children 6 and older, and will soon be available to 5 and under. In this swamp of information, parents must now decide how to proceed for their children. With fear often peddled on both sides of the issue, I can only imagine how challenging this decision must be for parents who really just want to do what is best for their child.

Add to this the pressure and shaming, especially on social media, that often already occurs among some parents (let’s talk about all-natural diets, organic foods, cloth diapers, discipline – need I say more), and this decision becomes even more of a challenge. If you look on Facebook and even listen to conversations, you know this to be true.  Between the pressures and trying to sift through all of the information, for parents, this has got to feel like a nightmare.

As a parent, on the tail end of my children being at home, I would simply offer a few words of advice:

1. Pause, take a breath and do your research — from reputable agencies and scientific sources, not Facebook, YouTube, or the mom or dad down the street who may or may not know what he/she is talking about.

2. Don’t let fear push you in one direction or the other. No one can tell you with 100% accuracy what will happen if you do or don’t get the vaccine for your child.

3. Remember, this is your child, no one else’s, so make the decision that is right for your child and family.

My children are 18 and 20 now. As adults we let them decide, and they chose to get the vaccine because of my chronic health issues and how sick I got the first time I had COVID. I have other family members that chose not to. Both did what they felt was best, and I try to do what is best for me. As parents of young children trying to make this determination, use these same principles to guide you and your family, because most parents I know really do want the best for their children.

Getty image by Phynart Studio.

Originally published: February 17, 2022
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