Mommy Mayor: Vaccines

I tend to be a pretty easy going parent – my kid falls down, I tell her to get up and brush it off. My kid gets sick, she watches Sprout for a day under the covers and all is well. I do call the pediatrician with “I just want to verify that my lack of concern is warranted” questions and I’m generally greeted with “yep, no worries unless …”

So last night, my one year old spent a few hours vomiting — little sleep for me, a yucky night for her — but no one was the worse for wear. Until I spotted a rash on her back that within 2 hours, was on her tummy and her neck. Two months ago, I would have chalked it up to a virus, kept her home for a day or two and everything would have been fine.

Instead, I’m googling when her pediatricians office gives the MMR (it’s a year so she has a whole 2 months of immunity), what the measles look like (it starts on the face not the back), taking her temperature eight million times (she doesn’t have one, she’s not even warm).

What has made me into some crazy mom? Unvaccinated children. And the measles.

Luckily, I don’t have some horror story about how my kids are at a greater risk but, as I sit here waiting for the pediatrician to call me back to confirm that all my googling is correct, I can’t help but think that this is how moms had to think 50 years ago every time their kid got sick.

Did someone at school have the measles, or mumps or chicken pox? Did someone visit someone who had them or maybe went some place where someone had them? (I’m currently wracking my brain to make sure no one we’ve seen has been in Jersey City. Luckily, this all happened a week before a case cropped up in Princeton.)

So, I ask a simple question to those who are considering not vaccinating or have chosen not to vaccinate, not out of necessity or religious belief but “because:” Why would you want to live your life in fear of your child getting sick? 

I’m not even going to talk about all the scary things those diseases can bring but about the practical questions: Who has a job they can take off for two to three weeks while they care for their sick child? And, if you have multiple children, you’re looking at nearly a month or more while it cycles through the house.

If you are depending on herd immunity to carry you through, I’m pretty sure Disneyland should prove that herd immunity doesn’t work when too many people decide to opt out.

Let’s face it, vaccines changed our lives. It saved children from dying, it saved parents from living in fear of a cough, it made it possible for mothers to work outside the home without losing their jobs because each childhood disease took weeks to recover from.

I spent two hours worrying over those things and now I’m asking everyone – why would we go back?


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Cathleen Lewis
Cathleen, the Mayor of Lawrence Township & a full-time Public Affairs professional, counts her best job as being Mommy to Abigail (3 years) and Bridget (6 months ). A New Yorker originally, but Boston raised, Cathleen enjoys the challenge of raising the girls in a mixed household with her Yankee-fan husband Paul. She hopes to make up for the confusion by encouraging the family’s love of Rutgers football. She dreams of sharing her love of beaches, margaritas, music and adventure but is happy to squeeze in a family walk with the dog and a back yard BBQ these days. Formerly an avid reader and writer before work, life and children; Cathleen hopes she hasn’t lost her ability to capture thoughts through the written word but often can’t remember where the grocery list is.


  1. Strep throat can cause vomiting, and a rash is one of the tell tale signs. Usually on the front of the torso though. What happened? Did your daughter have a virus or a bacterial infection?

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