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Moms have a right to know if an unvaccinated kid is invited to a playdate

Jill is a sometime runner and expert wine taster from sunny San Antonio. She has a degree in social psychology, one husband and three children. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Babble and she's regular...

Don't vaccinate your kid? Don't send 'em to my house

Playdates and birthday parties: things that make me cringe. My two kids make enough mess and noise all by themselves. Then there are the parents, who I may or may not jell with, and the complex logistics surrounding drop-offs, the rules for snacks and which child must never, ever under any circumstances watch television. It’s tiring enough, and that's before you wade into the uncertain world of vaccines.

I accept that my kids’ social lives can be a pain in the butt, but a risk to our health?

As a "Team Vax" parent, I don’t want an unvaccinated child in my home, putting my family at risk, but I also don't want to come across as a sanctimonious jerk. How and when do you ask a mom if her kids were vaccinated? Or should you?

I’m not a 20 questions type of playdate mom. I ask for basic info I need to ask to keep your kid safe and reasonably happy while they’re at my house.

But what about keeping my kids safe?

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I don’t want unvaccinated kids around my kids, period, although I can’t completely control that. Unvaccinated children go to school with my kids. Our school nurse assures me the numbers are very small, but they’re there. I don’t know who they are. There are state board of education wickets to navigate, which includes a substantial amount of paperwork for the Anti-Vax family, but they don’t wear stickers or special badges. Even my Team Vax self wouldn’t expect a child to wear a scarlet letter in elementary school.

But they are there.

Is this a question I should be asking before I let a child come over? Do I need to ask this before I RSVP "yes" to a birthday party, where I might be sending my child into a house with multiple, unvaccinated family members? Do I need to fill out a risk management survey before I decide if my kids can play with other kids?

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I read an Ask Amy column about one mom’s idea to put a notation on a child’s birthday party invitation to make it clear that Anti-Vax families were not welcome. I imagine that would go something like:

"Come to celebrate little Cody’s 6th birthday! All toys will be donated to blah-blah-blah children’s shelter. There will be red food dye and gluten, but organic gluten, of course. Don’t forget your child’s immunization records. These will be inspected at the door, and your little darling will be promptly ejected if his/her shots aren’t up-to-date. Hope you can join us!"

Uh. No. This article went on to suggest there was a difference between conscientious objector Anti-Vaxxers and people who don’t vaccinate or delay vaccinations for medical reasons. I’m not sure I get that distinction. Sounds like a gateway to mom-judging to me.

I don’t want unvaccinated children around my children, but it would be awkward to start asking for medical histories before playdates. I’m not judging anyone’s life choices. I just want to keep my kids safe or at least know what risk is present.

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I’ve been on the other side of this too. One of my kids was vax-delayed. We adopted him when he was 3. He was immunization-deficient, and we had to put him on a catch-up schedule. It took us almost a year to get him where he needed to be. His child care provider was aware, and we were open about the medical reasoning behind our process. We were conservative on how much we exposed him to other kids during this time, and I told people on an as-needed basis. It was our personal, sensitive medical information, and we treated it as such.

This was short term. I’m strongly Team Vax. On one hand, I don’t care how other parents choose to raise their kids, but when those choices might be silently affecting my kids, then yeah, I care.

To the staunch Anti-Vaxxers out there: I’ll disagree with your choices till the cows come home, realizing they’re your choices. But keep your kid away from mine, and I say that in the kindest possible way, acknowledging the “hey, I chose to not vaccinate my kid” conversation is probably a little awkward to have with a stranger.

Damn. Parenting is complicated sometimes.

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