Jason Olson is a new dad from Chicago, Illinois. He and I have been corresponding about how and when to vaccinate. His description of his struggle seemed so universal and heartfelt that I wanted to share it. Jason graciously agreed to allow me to publish part of our exchange about why he feels conflicted about vaccines.
Conflicted About Vaccines
I’m a new father and have spent weeks agonizing and researching vaccines for my now 6-month-old son Mitchell. It’s hard for me to really comprehend how little I feel like I understand about these issues. I completely understand that vaccinations are good for society as a whole. And, person for person, they provide immense benefits for the majority of individuals in society as well.
But there are those rare cases where what is supposed to deliver health and well-being ends up destroying it.
And it doesn’t matter if there’s a one in a hundred chance, or one in a million chance that things could go wrong, because I’ve only got one Mitchell, and if it hits him, then it’s a 100% chance for him … and for me…
A few weeks ago I thought that I could do enough research to get myself to the point that if I decided to give my boy a vaccine, and that it had some harmful effect, that I could live with myself because I had at least done my due diligence.
I had at least gone into it with my eyes open, and had made a well-informed decision based on the very best data available.
But now, after reading, scouring the internet, talking with friends, checking with the CDC, and getting in contact with other doctors and parents, I realize that the information just isn’t good enough. I am still conflicted about vaccines.
I’m not sure I can get to the point where I could live with myself—because the studies haven’t been done, and the data we do have isn’t anywhere near perfect … and some of the people who we’re supposed to be able to trust have motivations that make it all a bit murky…
I’m just not sure any more…
At the doctor’s office and still conflicted about vaccines
So we’re in the doctor’s office this morning and Mitchell is face-up on the examination table, his left thigh bare and exposed in anticipation of the nurse’s arrival and his first injection.
I’m above him, staring into his eyes, trying to read him, trying to memorize everything about they way he is right now, the way his eyes stare back at me with wonder and light and inquisition…
I’m trying to come to grips with the possibility that the decision I’ve made could possibly harm him … that there’s a chance that he’ll never be the same again … and in this moment I feel a pain I’ve never experienced before … pondering what a future would be like knowing I brought harm to my boy.
We had a few moments there, and I think in some way he was able to read me … his eyes said that he understood…
So far he seems to be a little more irritable than normal and I found a new rash—but overall he’s doing well. But I feel different.
Those few moments with Mitch feel like they changed me … I don’t know quite what to make of it yet … but I appreciate being able to share this with someone I know has taken this same journey and come through the other side…
Thank you for sharing your experiences with me, and so many others like me, and for taking the time to let me share some back with you.
Want to keep reading about dads and vaccines? Another dad, James Maskell, weighs in with 8 reasons why he chose NOT to vaccinate his daughter. Unlike Jason, James Maskell isn’t conflicted about vaccines. He is clear in his decision not to vaccinate.
Published: November 16, 2011
Updated: January, 2020