Questions of Whether to Vaccinate May Spell Divorce for Couples at Odds

  • Recent national discussions have highlighted the debate of whether to vaccinate children from diseases.
  • Marital issues and divorce can occur when spouses are at odds on the issue.
  • Many of these diseases have been eliminated by the wide-spread use of these vaccines.

"Through looking at how the vaccinated individuals of the United States react when interacting with unvaccinated individuals from outside of the country, in terms of their overall health and well-being, parents deciding whether or not to vaccinate their children can learn a lot about caring about the overall health and well-being of the individuals that your potentially-unvaccinated child interacts with on a daily basis."

When it comes to making big decisions, regarding your children, being a parent is never an easy job, but when parents are divorcing or have divorced, it can make some of the most basic decisions for your children a challenge, to say the least.

Some of the most difficult are with medical decisions. One of the most taboo and talked-about topics for parents is the decision regarding vaccinating your child when they are young from specific diseases.

Disease and discussion

Many of the diseases in question include polio, varicella (chicken pox), diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (DTP), haemophilus influenza B (Hib), and measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), according to Richard Goodman’s Law in Public Health Practice.

There also are the issues regarding vaccination and autism. Much of the national discussion centers around those, such as gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield, the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, actress Jenny McCarthy, former reality show star Kristin Cavallari and her husband, former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.,  and the newspaper, Age of Autism, that are under the impression that vaccinations cause autism in children.

Many organizations, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Autism Speaks, the Autism Science Foundation, the Immunization Action Coalition, the Journal of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have shown scientific evidence that negates the notion that vaccines cause autism.

Question of well-being

No matter where you stand on the issue, ensuring the health and well-being of your child is a parent’s first priority. Many of those that believe that vaccines could be damaging to a child’s health are under the impression that the individual choice of whether or not to vaccinate the child in question is up to the parent or caregiver, according to the National Vaccine Information Center.

However, many feel that exposing unvaccinated children to the general populous would endanger the health and well-being of those the children would come into contact with. Many parents are terrified for their child’s well-being and overall health when they share a classroom, a school bus, or a lunch room with a child who has not received the vaccinations necessary to prevent diseases.

The case of divorce

When co-parents find themselves at odds in this discussion, it can spark the marital discord that can ignite the divorce process. The Chicago Tribune highlighted a couple, whose divorce was sparked by the couple’s inability whether or not to vaccinate their 3-year old daughter.

The disagreement began when the husband began getting more and more scientific information supporting child vaccination. The wife had previously stated that she had done her research in that department and that vaccinating their child was not the answer. The husband had debated taking things into his own hands and getting his daughter vaccinated, but because of how it may be used in a custody dispute, he was forced to do nothing.

Communication and intention

Part of the issue that many co-parents face when debating whether or not to vaccinate their child from dangerous diseases is that they are not often listening to one another and understanding where the other is coming from. Many who find themselves at odds, no matter what the issue, do not always believe that the other person is speaking from a place of genuine concern. Communication is not necessarily a skill being utilized, according to psychologist Lisa Herrick. Both parents love their child, and neither wishes for the child to suffer in any way.

However, these vaccines are designed not only to protect the child from infectious and dangerous diseases, but also those they come into contact with. Many infectious diseases have gotten a second wind at existence because of unvaccinated children.

Preventing disease with the MMR vaccine

In 2014, the United States experienced two separate large measles outbreaks, due to unvaccinated individuals in the Amish community and individuals from the Philippines, which also had experienced a large outbreak, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2015, a large multi-state measles outbreak surfaced in the United States and was linked to an amusement park in California.

Before the vaccination program was founded in 1967, the mumps was a disease associated with everyone’s childhood. Afterward, there has been more than a 99 percent decrease in mumps cases. Typically, the mumps will resurface when large groups of people are together and unvaccinated. Exposure to an unvaccinated individual with the mumps can trigger it in someone who has been vaccinated, according to Dr. William Schaffner, a vaccine specialist at Vanderbilt University.

Rubella, also known as the German measles, is a contagious disease that, in addition to the measles and the mumps, can be prevented with the MMR vaccine. It also used to be a common disease that occurred among young children, but since 2004, it has been eliminated from the United States, thanks to successful vaccination programs. However, because of how common it is in other countries and how other countries are not always vaccinating it, it still has the potential to be a threat to vaccinated individuals in the proximity of noncitizens.

These diseases are a glimpse of what the past health hazards parents and children had to deal with. In advancements in medicine and science, society has been given a chance to live healthier years during a developmental era in their lives.

For the kids

As a part of that era, parents are looking to do what is best for their child, whether that is prevent the diseases from taking place or prevent potential damage from receiving the vaccine of these potential diseases. Whether you believe the research or not, it’s important to recognize how many do and how many base their family’s future health and well-being on these advancements in medicine and science.

Even as a parent at odds over this important decision with your co-parent, it’s important to bring perspective into this situation. If you have let this decision divide your relationship, ending your marriage in a divorce, you still have to coexist and communicate as co-parents, having to deal with custody, visitation, child support, and various other aspects of one another’s individual lives.

Through looking at how the vaccinated individuals of the United States react when interacting with unvaccinated individuals from outside of the country, in terms of their overall health and well-being, parents deciding whether or not to vaccinate their children can learn a lot about caring about the overall health and well-being of the individuals that your potentially-unvaccinated child interacts with on a daily basis.

The idea that you, as a parent, would look out for the health and well-being of other individuals that their unvaccinated child comes into contact with, may cause the co-parent to view them as not putting their own child’s needs first. This notion can drive a court case, and while it may be an unfounded and untrue claim, it can cause your case to focus on these claims, in order to refute them.

Whether it is in the courtroom, in a doctor’s office, or in a family home, your child will be caught in the middle, while their parents divide their assets and go through the divorce process. Adding the decision whether or not to vaccinate their child does not provide the child with the medically-proven safety that the vaccine will give and only causes additional stress onto an already-volatile situation.

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