“For your own good” Feeling guilty about giving shots

I’m sure every parent feels some guilt when they give their child shots. Today, after my son got his 2nd series of shots at 4 months, I felt this weird sort of guilt for every one of the 1000′s of kids I’ve ordered shots for.

At the time of the shots, I didn’t even mind that he cried for a moment. I took it in stride, knowing the immunizations are good for him. I’d rather see him cry, than see one of his limbs shrivel up from polio. Or even more saliently, rather than see him with Pertussis (Whooping Cough) snotty, unable to eat, and crying from a constant minute-long stacatto cough, then turning blue, then sucking in a breath (the Whoop) and crying some more, when the serial cough finally ends. And then see that cycle all over again a few minutes later…for a month. Yes, I’d much rather see him cry for a minute, or even a day, than have even a few days of any of the diseases the vaccines protect him against.

But later that day, I babysat for him for only the second mommyless (or more specifically boobiless) time. As he became increasingly fussy, I felt a weird, different sort of guilt. I felt like my child’s fussiness from the shots was some sort of karmic payback for those 1000′s of kids.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt they are still worth it, and no regrets. I still had that tinge of guilt, bigger than just the guilt of doing something for my child’s own good. I felt like my child was paying for all the other children. Weird.

Actually in the end, it turned out he just missed the boob and needed a bottle. It was only my second time without Mommy and I didn’t think he could possibly need to eat again already! Welcome to the world of parenting, Daddy Dr.

4 Responses to ““For your own good” Feeling guilty about giving shots”

  • laura roberts:

    Oh yeah, does that bring back memories of the guilt I felt for each one of my babies! Now I am giving those shots to countless kids.

  • Barrett:

    Hey Shaun,

    I’m on baby watch, and little apprehensive to vaccinate my little lady.



    Some of the most healthy geezers I meet around here have never been vaccinated.

    I’m also a little nervous about the chance that vaccine’s sold here in Costa Rica might be even more contaminated.

    Shouldn’t the best ingredients for a healthy immune system be in the boobies?

    I’m sure there’s a some good vaccine’s out there. That polio sounds tragic. I think we’ll take modern medicine’s advancement on that front, but I am really nervous about all the others out there.

    Are there any vaccines that you WOULD NOT give your baby?


  • Jaime:

    Well said. As a pediatrician (and a new mommy), I vaccinate my precious baby girl–because I want nothing but the best for her. There is nothing more heartbreaking than to see a child suffer–especially medically–because of the ignorance of the parents (notice I didn’t say stupidity because many of these parents are intelligent–but misguided and not trained to fully discern the correct information from the rest of the junk in the popular media and internet). I also want to add that many of the additives in the vaccines were much worse when I was growing up than they are now. If there truly were real disorders from vaccines (such as autism), we would see much more of them in adults today, but we don’t. Autism is the fad diagnosis of the 2000s, as ADHD was in the 1990s and gluten sensitivity of the 2010s. Many that were “diagnosed” did not truly have the disorder and the few that actually do have true autism has suffered because of all this hype.

    On a different subject: DaddyDr., it’s good to “hear” from you. Your name popped up on my facebook suggestion list and peaked my curiosity and I meandered over to your site. Glad to hear you are doing well and you two have a beautiful baby. My hubs and I have a 7 mo baby girl of our own and could likely swap new-parent-established-doctor stories with you. Boy–has our little one taught me a lot about what NOT to say to parents ever again! Feel free to email me (I assume you have access to the unpublished email I submitted when making this reply), it would be fun to catch up! In case you don’t remember my name, you were my attending at the resident clinic and more recently a hospitalist colleague.

  • Daddy Dr.:

    Great to hear from you, Dr. Jaime. I’d love to hear more of your MommyDr. advice!
    Your point is well taken, we all want to do what’s best for our children. And as a group, pediatricians chose to be pediatricians because we love kids, and dedicate our lives to them. And most are parents themselves. I have definitely changed my advice about many things now that I am a parent, but not about vaccines (I did skip the HepB at birth, knowing I’d do it at 2, 4, and 6 months though).

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