OPINION: So proud of my daughter getting her first Covid vaccine jab

Ruth's daughter Florence after getting her first vaccine

Ruth's daughter Florence after getting her first vaccine - Credit: Ruth Davies

Although I am pro-vaccination in general, it wasn’t without thought that my newly eligible child went to have her first dose in the prevention of Covid over the weekend.

I’ve always been in favour of vaccination programmes and through my work as a blogger have supported vaccination campaigns over the years, most notably when Jimmy was a baby, working with Pampers on their one pack = one vaccine scheme.

Back then I remember arguing the point with a colleague who was anti vax. This particular argument, about this particular scheme, was a world away from her usual points of defence.

Her choosing within her nice middle-class life in Bristol, that she didn’t want her children to have potentially life saving vaccinations, wholly different to mothers in third world countries in need of them.

Third world countries where maternal and neonatal tetanus is rife and the majority of reported tetanus cases are birth-associated among babies and mothers who have not been sufficiently vaccinated.

Not enough vaccine affordable to those in most need and not enough vaccinated people to create the herd immunity my challenger offered as one remedy and point. This was a real fire in my belly when I presented her with some of my own arguments.

I explained these women, their hand being dealt to be born into poverty, live in unsanitary conditions.

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This blogger was born into a first world country through nothing more than luck. Their water, their environment, they had no choices and couldn’t hope for herd immunity or make fanciful decisions about creating their own… I also explained to her, in order to build an immunity you have to get something, and if you get something then you can die.

She sobered at this a little and I remember a physical visual in her slight shift to my corner. I went on to explain the stats in 2015 showed neonatal deaths of new-borns with tetanus at 34,000, a staggering 96% reduction since 1988. This monumental reduction a direct result of the immunisation programmes supported by the likes of Pampers and Unicef. Fact. No arguments.

So I told her, if you don’t immunise your own children, while still taking them out and about to play groups where there will be children under the age for their own vaccinations, therefore putting others at risk, then unfortunately I cannot do anything about that.

I can, however, shout from the rooftops for the women in Sierra Leone, women prepared to walk for miles in order to receive life saving and life changing vaccinations to keep their families together. I told her she had no right to even suggest for a single second these women were harming their children by protecting them with vaccinations.

She finally agreed.

Yes, those women did need the vaccinations, even if, as she mistakenly believed, they also came with potential side effects she wouldn’t accept for her own children living within a herd immunity Britain, protected by others being protected. She re-tweeted my Tweets and I’d won that battle. It was enough and we argued over the years more, but I knew for then at least, she’d seen sense and was reasonable.

Then it came to the pandemic, and this woman went off the charts.

She’d had Covid, she said, right at the start before there were any tests.

She’d had it all over Christmas of 2019 and knew with certainty that it was absolutely fine, just another flu and if her, her husband (a Metropolitan Police officer no less) and kids had built their natural immunities then the rest of the world would too.

Sure some would die, they die with influenza but then this is natural selection isn’t it. I held my breath every time I saw something on social media from her because at that point none of us knew a single thing, we had everything to fear and though this woman, not a scientist I hasten to add but a yoga instructor, seemed to say she knew more than any of the experts, I myself was running scared.

I was pregnant (we now know pregnant women are far more likely to have Covid very badly if unvaccinated), with three small children and a husband who worked in a school. I did not have her confidence.

When talk of vaccination programmes became reality it relieved me while it seemed to ignite her argument more. I’d been friends with this woman for a decade but I unfollowed, defriended and wiped her away from my socials because frankly, when it came to this, our differences were far too great.

She was running into the very thing I felt fearful of, and with such little regard for absolutely anyone else.

I was pro-vaccination, as always, from the word go.

When my mum became eligible I breathed sighs of relief she’d be partly protected. I had a tiny, breast-feeding baby when I had mine and again felt relieved I was hopefully passing protection onto my baby through my milk. And now, this weekend, my eldest child had hers and again there’s relief.

It’s not without thought. I know we don’t know everything yet. But I also know that Covid is real and when you compare stats from this time last year to now, the cases are sky high, yet deaths are lower. That’s vaccination.

More people are testing positive, the vaccination doesn’t prevent entirely, but it does afford a lower level of illness. Those on ventilators are almost exclusively unvaccinated so when weighing up, it’s the bigger picture I look at.

True, it was created swiftly compared to other vaccines, yet money has afforded more time from the world’s scientists dedicating their focus.

I trust them and I want us to be safe from the virus with a vaccine that’s been rigorously tested. I thought about it, and I worry a smidge, like I do anything else, but ultimately why would I choose any other option and I’m proud of Florence for choosing the same.

Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk

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