I have never been worried about vaccines. For as long as I can remember, I knew that when I had children, I would immunise them. It never occurred to me that vaccines were not responsible for the amazing leaps forward in public health that have either fully or partly eradicated diseases like smallpox, polio and measles.
I knew people who didn’t immunise their children, and I didn’t agree with their decision. There are very minute risks of adverse events with vaccines, and I considered that we must be willing to face them if we want our children to live in a society without the actual diseases.
When I had children, I realised that many of my peers in the greater Freo community did not share my views.
I remember sitting in a room full of homebirthing, breastfeeding mothers and hearing one person after another say that they were not going to vaccinate, or that they weren’t sure, or that they hadn’t vaccinated the toddlers playing near our new babies.
I was the only voice for vaccines in that room, and it became a tearful one. I was not merely upset by the social isolation. My primary emotion was fear for the well-being of my baby son, coupled with a sense of grief that I might have to ditch my new friends in order to keep him safe.
At that moment, the seed was planted for this campaign. I hope that two things might come of it.
Firstly, I hope that another tearful mother surrounded by new friends might find that another voice speaks up to join hers.
Secondly, I hope that these voices might begin to change the narrative whereby just because you aspire to natural birth, or eat organic food, or use cloth, or baby-wear, it doesn’t mean that you have to reject vaccines.
The other people in this campaign are my heroes because they were willing to stand beside me and add their voices to mine.