I will not give vaccinations, for now and for many years to come. I was a health care professional. I could’ve begged my aunt to get her vaccines, or read her the CDC’s all the lists of recalled vaccines and her worst symptoms, but I didn’t.
My aunt, my mother’s sister, saw a doctor soon after her first seizure in 2010. Three months after her first seizure, when she returned to the doctor, the doctor warned her that she probably wouldn’t live beyond three weeks and to get all her vaccines. She was four years old at the time.
She was in so much pain and shaking that day, and as her mother looked on, she said, “I’m so sorry if I take that chance.” Her first seizure had occurred in 2009, which meant she would likely be seizure-free by the time she was five years old. That isn’t to say the seizures would’ve stopped. She would’ve gone through weeks of seizures each year for the rest of her life. But once she had a few seizures in 2010, she needed to get her vaccines.
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In an ironic twist, she would go through 10 years of fits at the age of 36, which finally stopped when she was 40. The first few times her seizures would get so bad that she couldn’t breathe, but now that she’s recovered she’s able to walk without a cane, read books, and order food by her fingers without grabbing it. Even though she lives a better life now, I want to live a better life for her.
I always wanted my parents to take me to get vaccinated, but I didn’t go the extra mile. I was wary about going through so much pain and cramping to get it, so I stayed home.
I just like to be normal, and I always wonder what her life would’ve been like if she got the vaccines.
It’s weird, because I don’t know my mother. I never have talked to her about it. I don’t have that relationship with her in my home or with my husband. What would have happened if I had gone and done that? All the memories about how afraid I was of getting the vaccines, about what it would have meant, now that I’m seeing her now I see how quiet and painless they are.
I didn’t want to push her. I didn’t want her to think she had to have them or she had to get her shots. Now I live with my regrets.
I’m not completely against the vaccine idea. In my house, we aren’t allowed to smoke. To me, there are other health issues that are worse than the vaccines.
Myself and my family is above all the residual health effects. But I worry about how people who have been side-effect-free are put at risk. I think it’s in our family; my brother got pneumonia after his first shot, and ended up in the hospital. Then there’s this 9-year-old who just died from an allergic reaction to the flu shot. I think we have all those things that exist with a vaccine. I’m afraid to give children the measles. I know I won’t have the symptoms like her, but I’m worried about what other children could have.
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Next time I’m with my Aunt and her babies, I’ll talk to them about why I didn’t do that. Why I didn’t push her. And I’ll ask them why I wasn’t proactive and said no to getting the vaccines. Sometimes I feel like they get the right answers, but in the back of my mind I have the voice that just said, “I’m so sorry if I take that chance.” I remember that when we came in and I said, “I was never going to get you the vaccines.” That kind of hurt her. I just remember her saying, “Thank you, I’m so sorry, I just wanted you to be healthy.”
This article originally appeared on Healthy Living.