Mom-of-three reveals why she finally vaccinated her kids after 15 years
Kristina Kurzan from Seattle has spoken out about how she vaccinated her three children, but only after 15 years of outright refusing to do so. When her eldest son was three years old, she started to research vaccines. She soon found that there was a lot she didn't know, and when she spoke to pediatricians about it, she says they seemed irritated she was even asking.
“You want me to poke a needle in my baby’s skin, put chemicals in them and you can’t even tell me what it’s made of?” she said in an interview with Time. She felt like she had no trust in the medicine, but this all changed when she met naturopathic pediatric practicioner, Elias Kass, at a conference about five years ago.
The difference with him was that he took the time to answer her questions and address her concerns, and eventually convinced her that vaccines were important to the health of her children and those that they interact with.
“He always makes the time for me; he’s never spoken down to me,” Kruzan said. “Finally I found a person who could say, ‘I know you have concerns. Let me find an answer.’”
She continued to speak with him over the next year, then chose to have her three kids - aged 18, 13, and seven respectively - all vaccinated. Decisions like this are important given the fact that vaccination rates have reportedly been falling across the United States, especially in states such as Washington and Oregon.
“I’m not worried about them getting measles, I’m not worried about them getting mumps, because we have healthy immune systems," Kruzan said. "I’m worried about them giving mumps to an elderly neighbor."
54 people in Washington have become infected with measles over the last few months. While it is deadly to young children, it is easily preventable with the MMR vaccine. While some have still chosen to keep their children from being vaccinated, this outbreak has lead to rates of vaccinations in the immediate area growing by six times over January and February, compared to the same time period from last year.
Some studies have suggested that trust in the healthcare system has been in decline for years, which means that strong relationships between practitioners and parents can help improve vaccine rates.
Kass, who received an award from the CDC for his efforts to promote vaccination, said that while vaccines are "extremely safe," there's a lot of misinformation out there. For instance, some children who have the MMR vaccine may develop a rash and fever that looks like measles, but is significantly less harmful - but this can be skewed when shared on social media, and end up putting people off.
Rupali Limaye, an associate director at Johns Hopkins’ Institute for Vaccine Safety, says that it’s important for providers to “not be dismissive,” of those who are uncertain about vaccines, “but not confirm their concerns.”
"Build some empathy: ‘I understand where you’re coming from, let me tell you what I do,’” she said. “Most people are not truly anti-vaccine, they just have questions and concerns."