Solihull Approach | Parenting

Spotlight

Navigating parental decisions: vaccinations and other health choices

Published 25 January 2024

Parenting is a journey filled with big and small decisions every day. From choosing the right school to what to feed them and how to keep them safe and well, each choice shapes your child’s future in some way. So it’s easy to be overwhelmed or feel anxious. One of the most common areas of difficulty for parents is the uncertainty of health-related decisions: deciding to vaccinate your child is a decision all parents face and for some, more complicated health decisions need taking too.  

It’s normal to feel a sense of anxiety when facing such pivotal choices. In a world flooded with information, sometimes these emotions can feel overwhelming and we all know that making decisions under pressure is hard. So how then can you make confident decisions in the best interests of your child and family? 

When you think about making decisions about health, it can be helpful to use the following guide; designed to help you recognise your own feelings and make the right decisions for you with confidence. 

1. INFORM: Accessing accurate information

Begin by gathering reliable information from reputable sources. Consult health professionals, whether it’s a Health Visitor, School nurse, or GP, and explore official NHS or professional health websites, and read scientific studies. Be cautious of misinformation on social media and look for evidence-based resources which have been published in reputable sources such as research journals or professional institutes. Look behind the headline as the facts may be very different.

2. TALK: Engage in open conversations

Talk to other parents, family members, and friends who have faced similar decisions. Share your concerns and listen to their experiences. This exchange of perspectives can offer valuable insights and help you feel more supported in your decision-making journey. Talking is also really important for understanding your own emotions and restoring your capacity to think clearly. But remember, we each might have our own opinion for our own reasons and that what suits one person may not be right for another or your family.

3. ASK: Consult with healthcare professionals and experts

Attend appointments with your child’s healthcare providers with prepared questions so you can check information you have found and fill in any gaps. Your child’s healthcare provider will be able to provide more personalised advice based on your child’s medical history and current health.

4. THINK: Set out your options

Once informed, you can work out the different options you might have, remembering that not acting is also an available choice. Not taking action has consequences like your other options, so for decisions like vaccination, understanding the risks associated with preventable diseases can provide a clearer perspective.

5. TRUST: Trust your instincts and validate them

Parental instincts are powerful and they are developed over time as you get to know and understand your child, but it’s essential to validate them with factual information. Trust your gut feelings, but ensure they align with the evidence and guidance provided by healthcare professionals. This balance and finding a way to make sense of the information you are receiving without being overwhelmed by it will allow you to make decisions with confidence.

Parenting is a journey filled with uncertainty and making decisions that impact your child’s health can be particularly challenging. Remember, you’re not alone on this journey and informed decisions lead to a healthier, happier future for your family. 

Mary Rheeston

Health Visitor and Solihull Approach Manager

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