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Spreading Gratitude for Healthy Children – #Tweetsgiving 2009 – #healthykids

November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving includes lots of good food (nom onm mon) and it’s time to pause to give thanks. What I’m most thankful for this Thanksgiving is healthy children. When a child is healthy they get to play, learn and, simply, just be a kid. Healthy kids means more smiling faces, more infectious giggles, and a better future for us all.

One thing that greatly contributes to children’s health is the amazing advances in vaccinations. With vaccines we are protecting today’s children and future generations from the devastation of polio, mumps, measles, rubella, chickenpox, HPV, meningitis, whooping cough, diphtheria, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Hib, rotovirus, tetanus and influenza.

When a child is protected from disease with vaccinations they get to avoid missing school due to the flu. They get to stay out of the hospital when they are dangerously dehydrated from rotovirus. They get to play with children with cancer because they can’t spread disease to these vulnerable kids.

Now, I’m a cup half-full kind of girl. I find it hard to believe that people can’t think of a single thing to be thankful for everyday of their life. I find the opportunity in every challenge and look at every mistake as a lesson learned.

My optimism is shaken by the growing group of parents who fear vaccines. They fear the vaccine schedule saying it’s too many shots too soon. They fear the ingredients. They fear the “conspiracy” of profiteering vaccine manufactures. They fear the possible side-effects.

What I fear is disease. I fear polio, photos of iron lungs scare me. I fear the erosion of the confidence in science. I fear media moguls pushing their beliefs to sell books and products.

I can’t understand how a parent feels more fear about a simple shot rather than the nastiness of a disease. I can’t imagine choosing to leave my child vulnerable to sickness and disease that I could have prevented. This includes the new H1N1 vaccine. I can’t imagine sentencing my child to a week of fever, coughing, runny nose and, possibly, vomiting that I could have prevented.

While I can’t empathize with parents who are afraid of vaccines, I can empathize with how they arrived in this space of paralyzing fear. Parents are subjected to a barrage of information. They have access to so much information on the internet and TV that it’s hard to weed out what is correct versus what is irrational misinformation. I do empathize with parent’s need for good information about this important choice of their child’s health.

When I need a shot of optimism, I turn to organizations that are fighting to provide information about the science of vaccines. Organizations like Every Child By Two, the Autism Science Foundation, California Immunization Coalition, Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, PKIDs and the Immunization Action Coalition are independent nonprofits which work to increase childhood vaccine coverage. These organizations are toeing the line, standing up for science and medicine. We should all look to these organizations as trusted sources of information.

My hope is that parents evaluate the sources of their information. We all need to evaluate our fears to see if they are rational or if it is a fear unduly influenced by the media or untrustworthy sources.

If you would like to join in my gratitude for healthy children, please consider doing two things:

Share why you are thankful for healthy kids through the Colorado Children’s Immunization Healthy Kids Thank-A-Thon. You can submit a comment, photo, video or blog post which celebrates healthy kids everywhere this Thanksgiving. You can always tweet your gratitude for healthy kids by using the hashtag #healthykids.

AND

Participate in the global groundswell of gratitude called TweetsGiving. The celebration, created by US nonprofit Epic Change, is an experiment in social innovation that seeks to change the world through the power of gratitude. I hope you’ll visit the TweetsGiving site to learn more, and to bring your grateful heart to the party by sharing your gratitude, and giving in honor of that for which you’re most thankful.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with health and happiness!

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