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Can vaccinating moms and non-vaccinating moms be friends?

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I vaccinate. I believe in the science and feel like the best choice I can make for my kids is to stay on schedule and vaccinate to mitigate the chances of them getting a disease that has been eradicated over the years. I also have three daughters and never was concerned with the rarity of a vaccine injury.

I am in the majority in that way of thinking among my friends. However, I have a dear friend I cherish who has three boys, one of whom she is convinced changed after his MMR vaccine, and she is vehemently against vaccinating. Though I don't agree with her thinking, I cherish her as a friend. But so many would not. The question is, can vaccinating moms and non-vaccinating moms be friends?

I have talked to many women who vaccinate about their thoughts on non-vaccinating moms and their opinions are unwavering, passionate and often loud. Those of us who do vaccinate generally feel like we are making the right decisions for our kids. Those who don't vaccinate fight an uphill battle trying to explain their reasoning to the majority.

My friend has many reasons why she has chosen not to vaccinate her two other sons. She is convinced that the MMR vaccine altered her older son in a vaccine injury. She says his personality changed almost instantly, and years later he has a slight form of autism. Her other concern is much discussed among religious leaders. She has read that vaccines, including the MMR vaccine, include aborted fetal tissue. While it is correct, according to AboutHealth.com, that the vaccines are cultured in some tissue, the vaccines themselves contain none. Reading about this subject is extremely interesting to me as I am Catholic. I personally side with the Vatican and scientists who state that there is no fetal tissue in vaccines. But she stands by her reasoning that it is against her religious beliefs. She has that right, as we all do.

When she and I talk vaccines, I listen. I don't argue, I don't push my beliefs on her and she affords me the same courtesy. I am truly interested in the thought process behind deciding to go against proven science. I am also curious naturally, as a mom, in case there is something out there that would change my mind.

But my kids are older. They have had all of their vaccines. They are protected in case her sons expose them to something. However, if I had an baby that was too young to vaccinate and I were around this friend, I wonder if I could be without concern?

Honestly, and as hard as it is to admit, I don't think I could. I could talk to her on the phone, I could text and see her in passing, but I don't think I could let my baby be around her unvaccinated children. I feel the risk would be too high. In fact, there is a popular post on Facebook showing that fear with raw emotion.

The thing is, choosing to vaccinate or not is a decision parents make. Though it does not define who that person is, it certainly waves a red flag over their head and the heads of our children. I love this friend deeply and believe her to be an educated, well-informed mother who is trying to make the best decisions for her kids. I was not there when her older son showed signs of what she believes is a vaccine injury, nor do I live in her house and see what she has to go through as a result of his challenge.

But I also believe that the recent outbreak of measles throughout the country is a direct result of those who choose not to vaccinate. So if my kids were younger and able to be exposed, I don't know if I could listen to the opinions that are so different from mine if they put my kids at risk.

What do you think? Do you think the age of someone's child affects their choice of friendship due to the vaccine debate?

Image: Izabela Habur/Getty Images
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