British Columbia

Anti-vaccination movement prompting parents to have difficult conversations

Parents are having difficult conversations with friends and neighbours about their views on vaccination so they can assess if their children are at risk.

Babies cannot be vaccinated against measles, prompting difficult conversations between friends

Children under one year-old cannot be vaccinated against measles (Dave Haygarth/Flickr cc)

The ongoing controversy about the anti-vaccination movement coupled with a high-profile measles outbreak in Disneyland is prompting some parents to have difficult conversations with friends and neighbours to assess if their children are at risk of contracting the virus.

Dozens of parents and children were vaccinated after a possible measles exposure at a Toronto daycare.

Parents with infants under 12 months old are especially concerned because children aren't usually vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella until they're between 12 and 15 months, leaving them exposed to contract the highly contagious measles virus from children who haven't been inoculated.

On the Coast spoke with two parents of young infants who have started asking friends and neighbours where they stand on the vaccination issue.

Lauren Bacon, the mother of a two-week-old baby and a three-year-old toddler, said it's been difficult for her to broach the controversial topic, but her baby's health must come first.

"I'm potentially exposing my infant to viruses and to potentially very contagious diseases," she said.

Mark Pulfer, father of a three-month-old and a two-year-old, has had similar conversations.

"It was nerve-racking at first," he said. "How would they respond? What would they say? Would they drop off as friends?"

Although most of his friends were comfortable with the question, one conversation did go sour and he said the "relationship is taking some repair."

Bacon said she would like to see more public policy about vaccination in place so the onus isn't on individuals to have to protect their children. She wants there to be broader public discussion and education on the issue.

"I hope that by hearing the stories whose kids are at risk," said Bacon, "that people start to realize what the impact is of these choices and that they're not just about their own personal decisions but that they have a much larger social impact."

To listen to the full interview with the two parents, click on the audio labelled: Parents confront friends about their views on vaccination


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