One of my favorite online magazines, Slate, had a funny article (read it here http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/04/16/social_networks_and_vaccination_facebook_friends_can_influence_politics.html ) about a soon to be published study in the Journal of Pediatrics regarding the prevalence of a new technique that many parents use when making vaccination decisions for their infants. They poll people on their social networks. Huh?
I am at a loss here. The Slate article made me chuckle, but the implications of what was being said is really no laughing matter. People are really making decisions that could affect the health and lives of their children by polling their social networks! Go back and read that line again – are you as scared as I am right now? I am suddenly grateful to live in a state that will bar children at the door of schools if they don’t have every immunization or a shit-load of paperwork to prove why they could not/ have not gotten them. I’m not talking about missing a doctor’s appointment and then guiltily having to hold your infant for four shots instead of two. I admit to having this happen. But if you’re the kind of person who puts up a Facebook status that says “ Like’ this status if I should get my kid immunizations, ‘Comment’ if I shouldn’t”, I am afraid of you. Please ‘unfriend’ me.
Ok, seriously though, I’ll just ‘unfriend’ you. My 19 year old son who is the proud father of a six month old baby girl calls me for advice weekly and I am happy to impart knowledge that I know he needs to be the best parent he can be. But I am no pediatrician, and there are times when he asks me a question and I say, “call your pediatrician.” The importance of getting a pediatrician that you trust and can build a relationship cannot be overstated. Good pediatricians keep up with the newest breakthroughs in medical care for infants and children and don’t mind answering exhaustive questions put to them by clueless, often unnecessarily worried new parents. My youngest child will turn 8 years old on Saturday and long gone are the days when I would pepper my pediatrician with questions about infant care. To answer questions like how many soiled diapers a three month old infant should have in a day, I would need to call my kids pediatrician and ask, I can’t remember.
When he asked me when his daughter should get her first shots I said one month to six weeks. This was when the immunization schedule began when his brother was born. Now it seems, they aren’t even beginning to give vaccinations until babies are eight weeks old. Good to know, but my point is, if you are going to poll people regarding a vaccination schedule, how about polling, I don’t know, DOCTORS! You can Google “pediatricians in my area” and call or email ten of them. Ask them or someone in their office what the current vaccination schedule is and if they have time to talk about how and why it has changed over the years. That would be a definite bonus. I really can’t understand people who trust their cyber associates on medical advice for their children over a doctor who has completed years of medical school and residency. That’s just scary!