May 31, 2017


Mum shares why she has no choice but to ask if your child is vaccinated.

“I hope you’re not offended when I ask. And I hope it makes you think a little about your decision, one way or the other.”

Hey new mum friend,

Ashley here. Jackson’s mum — yes, that Jackson. The one with the trach, the one with the CHD (congenital heart disease), and the one your little one just invited over to play. Or maybe we set up the time to meet. Either way, I’m super excited to be getting together. Play dates are the best, right? Or is it the wine? Whatever — I’m pumped.

You see, Jackson spent a lot of time in a hospital. A lot of time being poked and prodded. A lot of time being a patient instead of a baby. So getting to do these kinds of things with him is amazing. And, it’s great for me, too. My husband and I spent a lot of time in that hospital, and we were so looking forward to the day when we could take him home and let him meet the world head on.

But, I have a question to ask you, and it may be a little personal.

Is your child vaccinated?

Ah, the “v” word — a word that is almost as emotionally charged as the last election. A word that a lot of people tend not to talk about because they believe “it’s personal” or “it’s a choice.” That it’s something that isn’t anyone else’s business — a family decision that affects their family and their children alone. But for us — it’s not.

Jackson was born full-term, but that doesn’t mean he was quite ready for the world just yet. Born at 38 weeks, Jackson weighed in at about 5 pounds, not even hitting the first percentile on the growth curve. That’s OK, though, a lot of babies are born his size. But that wasn’t his only issue — he had a jaw that was too small and a heart that wasn’t whole and a belly that didn’t quite make it all the way to complete when it was forming. He was born with a lot of challenges — challenges we met with as much strength and grace as we could muster, but they were challenges nonetheless.

Along with these challenges came compromises, concessions that had to be made to allow him to grow and develop. He had a tracheostomy, bowel resection and open-heart surgery before 4 months of age, and all the while, we battled infections and illnesses, treating them the best we could, throwing high doses of very powerful antibiotics his way and stressing his system in ways that a baby shouldn’t have to be stressed.

We had to make another big compromise, too. We had always planned to get Jackson vaccinated. My husband and I have done the research and understand the studies. We know the risks and we know the benefits and we know that preventing diseases that can be prevented isn’t even a question for us, especially after seeing the aftermath of the ones we can’t prevent.

The issue, though, is that vaccines aren’t always top on the list in a hospital setting. When it comes down to the question of “life-saving surgery” or “hepatitis B shot,” it can be easy to understand how one is chosen over the other.

Plus, his immune system, already compromised from being in the hospital and having his little body opened up so many times, just isn’t quite ready to take on the vaccines just yet.

Sure, we’ll get there. We’ve talked to his doctors and have a plan to catch him up, but it won’t happen overnight. So, in the mean time, he’ll be susceptible to those preventable diseases we talked about before.

One of the arguments I hear a lot when it comes to a choice not to vaccinate your children is that they are your children — you know their medical history and what they need. They don’t have any problems that would make it hard for their bodies to fight off disease, so why do they need the help? Why not let nature take its course and treat the disease as it comes?

Why it is so important

But there is Jackson, and the thousands of kids like him diagnosed with congenital heart disease at birth. Or the thousands of kids going through cancer treatment. Or the kids born with an immune system that wasn’t quite right or the countless other children who are too young or too sick or can’t be vaccinated for one reason or another. You probably wouldn’t even know some of them have had life-saving surgery or spent months behind hospital walls, but they have. And they need your help.

You see, when these little ones get sick, it doesn’t necessarily just run its course at home with a few days of bedrest and chicken noodle soup. It’s hospital trips, oxygen machines and rounds of antibiotics we hope work but that might just not because their bodies have been exposed to them so many times. It’s continuous monitoring and sedation and being set back even further when it comes to development. And, for some of these little ones, it might be the hospital visit they don’t come home from.

Maybe it’s too much for me to ask that you vaccinate your child because we can’t vaccinate ours just yet. Maybe it feels pushy or preachy or overbearing. Maybe it feels like I’m forcing my beliefs on you and not letting you parent how you see fit.

Or, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s not too much to ask. Maybe it’s just one mum asking another to help her little one go to a daycare, school, or the playground without worrying. Maybe it’s one mum trying to give her little one a shot at a childhood free from the hospital he lived in for much of his young life.

So, I hope you’re not offended when I ask. And I hope it makes you think a little about your decision, one way or the other. And I hope you like white wine, because I brought two bottles.


Follow more of their journey on The Adventures of Jackson and Juna OR on Facebook HERE.

Share your comments below.

Read more:

Image via The Mighty

This post originally appeared on The Mighty and has been shared with full permission

  • i think that this is reasonable given the circumstances and i don’t blame her. Besides everyone should be vaccinated


  • Absolutely ask. It’s your right. The only reason kids who are not vaccinated don’t get sick is because they are surrounded by kids who are. My kids are vaccinated and yours not being able to is one of the reasons I would make sure mine were.


  • After going through what you have it is not wrong to ask to protect your son.. All my children have either completed their vac or are completing them. My third child had a bad reaction to the Whooping Cough vac, so was given option to continue or not. Lucky he only got a mild form of it in his mid teens. My MIL would know what you and husband are going through, as my husband spent his first two years in life with medical problems. Due to the amounts pf antibiotics used, it was only recently they found out he never had a spleen either.


  • I don’t think it is wrong to ask if their child is vaccinated. After all you’re not telling them they have to. You’re just protecting your own child which is what a good Mother does. You’ve been through a lot and don’t want your child to end up back in hospital. I totally understand. Wishing you’re son all the best


  • An intriguing read. Thank you for sharing your story Ashley.


  • I would proudly answer yes we are vaccinated and make an eye rolly comment about parents who choose not to. Just because your kids are healthy doesn’t mean a vaccine preventable disease won’t kill them. Or kill the next child they pass that illness on to.


  • this is such a controversial topic , but you as a parent have the right to do what is best for your child and ask all the questions and I am sure other parents totally understand


  • You have gone through so much and I can understand your passion for this topic.
    Hope your little one gets stronger every day and can stay away from infections in the time he isn’t protected.


  • I believe your question on vaccination as a mother who has so many challenges and trials with your son’s health, a reasonable one. I am pro vaccination and believe that it helps everyone in preventing diseases which can cause major problems or kill. Everyone wants healthy children so I believe it every parent’s responsibility to ensure they are protected for themselves first and for others. Good on you mum for asking the question and speaking up for the benefit of your son and family.


  • This poor Mum, she and her little one have gone through so much. I would be exactly the same and she has every right to ask if the children her child interacts with are vaccinated. I just can’t see the reason why someone wouldn’t vaccinate their child. (unless they have a medical condition)


  • What a beautiful post – and one I hope goes viral. I don’t use Facebook, but do hope others will share this post so it gets a far reaching listening to.


  • I agree completely. In her condition I would do exactly the same!


  • Another good point that should be considered by all ‘anti-vaxers’ think of others and not just yourself! This mummy wants to vaccinate but can’t just yet. I don’t see why people think it would be a good idea not to vaccinate their perfectly healthy child.


  • This is absolutely a well thought out and appropriate thing for this family to ask.


  • I think we all have the right to know who we and our children are interacting with.


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