With school preparations in gear for her family, Fort Worth resident Elena Greer isn't just remembering the family's vaccines, she's putting out the important word to other parents.
In an op-ed published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Greer, a mother of three who's active in Immunize Texas, explains the meaning behind the phrase "community immunity" and why it's important for every parent to protect their own children and the children in their areas from vaccine-preventable diseases. Greer is chair of the advocacy committee for the Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County.
In her op-ed, she writes:
I first became aware of the unfortunate fact that some people were avoiding vaccines when I was pregnant with my boys. There was a good chance they would be premature, and my doctor warned me how vulnerable they would be if they were exposed to whooping cough, which was just on the rise at the time. It’s often a deadly disease to babies, so we had to make sure that everyone who would come in contact with them was vaccinated. And I thought, “What are you talking about? In the age of vaccines, a disease like this is still endangering babies?”
A couple of years later, when the boys were in preschool, a child there did come down with whooping cough. I couldn’t help but think about what could have happened if this had occurred when the twins were infants and my daughter was in preschool. What if she had carried the disease into our household, right to her baby brothers?
That’s the important thing about vaccines. We’re not just protecting ourselves and our children. We’re caring for each other. It’s what I told my daughter when it was time for her HPV shots; she might not be a preschooler, but she doesn’t like shots any more than the next person.
“It’s a cancer vaccine,” I told her. “It won’t only keep you safe, it will keep the people around you safe, too.”
She said, “OK, I don’t want to, but I know it’s the right thing to do.” That’s the kind of children I want to raise — ones who think about others and do what’s right for us all instead of thinking only about what makes them comfortable in the moment.
You can read the full op-ed here.
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