The day I found out I was pregnant with my son, I was on top of the world. I had been told by my doctors that I wouldn't be able to conceive naturally, so the news of this pregnancy left me happy beyond belief. That was, of course, until fear set in. How was I going to care for this little being that I couldn't even see?
I did everything I was told to do during my pregnancy. I exercised, ate well and never missed a prenatal appointment. I still worried about my unborn baby's health, despite doctors assuring me that my pregnancy was going as well as one could hope. I spoke with my best friend -- a mother of two, known for her sage advice-- about my concerns. Her response: Just wait until the baby arrives.
This warning proved to be true. Once my son arrived, I felt like his bodyguard. I had an overwhelming need to protect him. When it came to his health, I made sure we never missed a doctor's appointment, or a vaccine. While I understood the importance of vaccines in keeping communities free of preventable diseases prior to my son's birth, I did my homework when it came to immunizing my own child. I read every piece of educational material I could get my hands on, and it became clear to me that the best way to protect my child from potentially fatal diseases such as Pertussis, was to stick to his vaccine schedule.
According to the World Health Organization, vaccine-preventable diseases were responsible for the deaths of some 1.5 million children under the age of 5 worldwide in 2008. If we can protect our children and our communities from this suffering, how could we not? For me, I chose to vaccinate to protect my children and the community from preventable, and potentially fatal, diseases.