I have a very personal story to share with all of you and it is the reason that all of my children are vaccinated. I tell you this story to help give you a real picture of what not getting vaccinations can be like. This is not some made up story, but a real life situation that I have watched unfold for the last 23 years but it started much earlier than this. This person has been almost like a second mom to me and a person that I care for like family.
Imagine you are 3 years old. You are doing all of the things that normal, healthy 3-year-old kids do: running, jumping and playing with your friends. It’s October 1953 and Christmas is just around the corner. Your mom notices you are a little feverish and have the symptoms of a cold. You walk upstairs to your bedroom to rest; your mom tucks you in and you sleep. Your mom comes up a few hours later to wake you up and you can’t move or speak. You are paralyzed from the neck down. They try everything to get you to walk or talk. Even taking out the Christmas box does nothing to get you out of bed. They realize something is very wrong
You live in a very small community in Eastern Canada and the nearest hospital is 3 days away by boat and when you arrive, there is another child that has the exact same symptoms. They fly you both by helicopter to the larger hospital in St. John’s where you are diagnosed with polio. You spend the next 6 months in an iron lung, helping you to breathe. Your parents find out that the other child you travelled with didn’t make it. They can only pray that it won’t happen to you.
This is a true story about my dear friend Maxine. She missed out on getting the polio vaccine by a little over a year. Her parents didn’t get the chance to stop it in its tracks before it took her childhood from her. I won’t let that happen to my kids. She spent the rest of the next 13 years in and out of rehab and hospitals getting fitted for several sets of braces and crutches, Over the years, she was eventually able to talk and move everything from her waist up, but she never was able to use her legs again. Now as a senior, I see the pain that she is going through, the fact that she can no longer walk as easily even with the braces because she has used her arms to support her entire body over the years, they are failing her as she ages. She has a chairlift to get up her stairs, a motorized wheelchair so that she can go for walks with her husband and her dog and although she still uses her braces, she isn’t able to do any of the things she used to do.
This disease is preventable with vaccines. It doesn’t have to happen to another child again. This is why I vaccinate. She is the reason that I make sure my kids are fully immunized. I will do everything that I can to prevent this from happening to my children because I want them to have a childhood. Back to school time is actually the perfect to time to do all the kids vaccinations should they be due. It’s an easy way for me to remember to check and see if anyone is due for their needles. This September, I have my little guy who is starting JK, going in to get his 4-6 year booster and my baby, who sadly turned one way to quickly if you ask me, getting his 1-year shots as well.
Ensure your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date. The vaccines protect against illness and outbreaks and the more people who delay or put off these vaccinations, the more likely the cases of serious diseases being spread. Choosing to vaccinate your child not only protects them from disease but also those children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. You can find the Ontario vaccination schedule here.
Disclosure: This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions of the author are their own.