Too Young to Vaccinate

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 (Kate Vidinsky)

In two weeks, my daughter will turn 1-year-old. On the morning of her birthday, she'll give her signature "I'm awake!" yell from the nursery, and her big brother will come barging in to sing Happy Birthday as she gazes up at him with her joyful six-toothed grin. I will dress her in her ruffled birthday dress and matching yellow shoes, and together we will celebrate this beautifully chaotic first year we've had as a family of four. There will be cake, of course, that she will most certainly tackle with the same voracity she's displayed for all aspects of her magical life so far.  

But right now, I want to savor these last two weeks before we start calculating her age by years, rather than weeks and months. Right now, I want to watch her lean forward as she pushes a chair across the living room floor before she is able to walk, and then run, unassisted. Right now, I want to rub her baby soft head as I rock her at bedtime, before she has a head full of what her Papa bets will be curly red hair. Right now, I want to breathe in every last bit of this first year, because the second-time around I really do understand how fast it all goes by.

And yet, as I read each day about the number of new measles cases popping up, I find myself worrying about my daughter, who won't receive her first dose of measles vaccine until she turns one. As I hear about more and more children being diagnosed with measles, first in California, then in the Bay Area, and now in my home, Marin County, I find myself wishing I could fast-forward these next two weeks, and questioning whether I should take my daughter to the park, or the grocery store, or even to pick up her brother from school. I feel my heart rate quicken, when all I'd wanted was for time to slow down.

In two weeks, my daughter will be one. Two days after her birthday, I will take her to the pediatrician and she will receive her measles vaccine. And after that, I will wish for other mothers to worry a little less, so they can soak up every last minute of their babies' first year.

Kate Vidinsky is a medical writer and health communication consultant. She lives in Fairfax.