Read: Are vaccinations worth it?
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With new grandbabies showing up in my household, you would never think that the granddaddy would be the one getting the vaccinations, but that is something that happens at my house. With my last granddaughter, I found out from my daughter-in-law that I should get a DPT shot, or a pertussis shot, if I was going to be around my new sweet little grandchild. In other words, I was told that if I was going to see her closer than the screen door out back, I was getting a shot, which I did.

Many of you may think these shots are just for children and really old folks, but right now pertussis, better known as whooping cough, is making somewhat of a come back in our state and many thought it had gone away. So far this year 238 cases have been reported, compared to 179 last year, and out in California there is somewhat of an epidemic with over 9,000 cases. Whooping cough is a contagious infection and not something you get over with a pill. Vaccination is the best form of preventing the infection and the newer vaccines developed after 2000 are safe, but it is reported that they don't last as long and you may have to have a booster, especially if you are going to be around small children.

I was glad to get my DPT shot and having grown up in a time back in the 50s and 60s when vaccinations were just something everyone did, it wasn't all that big of a deal to do for my grandkids. But recently while eating lunch at a local sandwich place, where if you eat their sandwiches you are suppose to get skinny, I overheard a group of homeroom mothers discussing their children's school vaccinations at a table behind me. Realizing that my sandwich wasn't making me skinny, I decided to listen in on the ladies' conversation about needles and shots, which was a lot more interesting than reading the nutrient content of my Cheetos bag, which had become empty. Stories about kids hiding under tables and doctors getting bit seemed to be very funny to that group, but having been a kid myself over 50 years ago and experiencing some of those same traumatic events, I was glad I had finished my weight reducing sandwich as I remembered back to the days when the health department nurse would show up at my school.

Those ladies were even talking about the option of vaccinating your child or not. Back when I was going to school there were no options. We all got stuck whether we wanted to or not. Plus, so many times we got stuck while standing in a line with a bunch of other kids who also didn't want to get stuck, but had to. We didn't have our mothers close by or even the option of a nice doctor's office with pull-out white paper to sit on. And I think because we stood in those lines and had those health department people in white coats show up at our schools to give us those vaccinations we didn't like that a lot of the infections past generations once endured no longer cause our children problems today.

I know the Internet gives out numerous side effects that can happen with vaccinations and the dangers that may evolve from taking certain medicine. I remember back when I went for cancer surgery, I made the mistake of checking out the procedure on the Internet and almost died before turning my computer off without leaving the house. Sure, there are risks to everything we do, but where would we be if everything we did was 100 percent a sure thing.

I remember the days of standing in line for the polio shots, and later, how excited I was when we no longer had to take shots because it was given to us on a sugar cube. As I grew up, I knew individuals who had to wear braces and use crutches because of polio. In our classrooms each year we took up dimes for the March of Dimes and placed them in cutouts in a small card to go into a fund to pay for research to find a cure. Because of our dimes and many more, a cure was found and today those braces and crutches are no longer seen.

As I listened to those ladies discuss the options of not getting inoculations and the many fears they expressed about all the side effects from taking the injections, I wondered what our parents really thought about it those many years ago when they sent us to school to meet the health nurse. I think they were more concerned with the dangers of the diseases, which they knew of first hand, than the rare chances of the side effects, which they knew very little about.

-Pettus L. Read writes for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at


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