We’re so grateful to Mitch, of GayNYCDad, for partnering with us to share his family’s story! View Mitch’s full blog post here.

I became a parent in 2003 and have made it my business to learn about the healthcare that our children receive so that I can make smart and informed decisions regarding my son’s health and well being. I am sharing our story here as a way to educate folks as to how we manage our child’s health. There are so many strong opinions on the subject, I wanted you to read mine, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

As an adult, I never paid attention to vaccinations. Whatever my doctor suggested, I did. That changed the day I became a parent. I saw every vaccine they gave my infant as something that would help and protect him.

As my son grew, I paid careful attention at every doctor visit. I was taken aback when I saw that my child was getting vaccinated for diseases I had as a child! I had no idea that vaccinations had progressed to this extent, but was happy to know there was more protection for my child.
I did not sit in the doctor’s office silently though. I always asked questions and learned to be an advocate. I wanted to know if it were possible that my son did not need the vaccines that I never received. This was new behavior for me as a parent. I trusted my pediatrician, but I also felt I had the right to ask questions and have more information, rather then less. Do your research, and make sure you are getting your info from reliable and credible sources. Our lives are flooded with misinformation, so we have to work harder to get our questions answered. Properly.

Most parents will agree, when the doctor explained how these vaccinations help to save the population of children that did not survive these diseases in the past, the same ones that I recovered from without issue, it quickly became a non-issue. My child would receive these newer vaccines. My job was to keep my child safe, healthy, and alive! My doctor always stresses how vaccines are safe, effective, and help protect everyone. My parents are in their mid 80’s, so when we are healthy, we are protecting them every time we visit!

I am an older parent. I was 44 when my son was born. My attitudes have changed as I have gotten older. I do not know if I would have been as pro-active and questioned my son’s doctors as much as I did if I as a younger parent. And that is my message. Do your own research, ask questions, and stay informed. Make sure your pediatrician spends the time you need to get your questions answered, that is our right as parents.

And then he became a man! Here is our Bar Mitzvah picture, taken right after he turned 13. It became time to think about the HPV vaccine. I humbly admit, I am a hopeless romantic and thought my son would meet one person, fall in love, marry her, and live happily ever after. I spoke with my spouse several times and decided that those types of love stories do not happen often enough. We investigated the  HPV vaccine and decided that we were lucky his generation had this choice. HPV can cause six different types of cancer, I am grateful that my generation of parents has the option to vaccinate against HPV, and all the other vaccine-preventable diseases.

Last month he turned 17. We are living in a different world, and he understands his part in his own health and safety. I did something right!  We trust our doctor, we can ask him anything, and he takes as much time as needed to make sure we are all on the same page with my son’s health and well-being. Plus, Dr. L. remembers conversations about my son’s professional interests from one year to the next, we love him!

The health of everyone in my family is of utmost importance to me. I just wish there was a vaccine that would stop this 61-year-old father of a teenager from shrinking!

The majority of parents choose to vaccinate. We have seen in the news how not vaccinating is dangerous when diseases spread through the population as has recently happened with measles. Please share your story in the comments on why you choose to protect your kids by getting them vaccinated!