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  • Writer's pictureOklahoma Alliance For Healthy Families

Grateful 2020

The holiday season is a time for joy and peace, that “most wonderful time of the year”, when we reflect on our lives with full and grateful hearts. There’s no mistaking it: 2020 has put “gratitude” to the test. In a year full of quarantine, sickness and separation, along with the absence of big hugs and full smiles, gratitude is a trait we may now need the most.

In 2020, I am grateful for something not often celebrated: I’m grateful to live in a nation that offers vaccination protection for my children. Three of our five children are immunocompromised. One of those three is on palliative care and any type of regular cold or flu could kill her, including COVID very much included. My children don’t have a voice; they cannot fully understand the need to be protected from mumps, measles or the chicken pox. I AM their voice and their protector, so it’s up to me to listen to the doctors and scientists in order to make an educated decision where vaccinations are concerned.

The severe medical conditions and diagnoses in our children affect the way we have chosen to vaccinate. I’m thankful for the support I have received through doctors and specialists allowing us, as the parents, to have a say in the vaccination process of our children.

COVID-19 has shown the devastating effects of preventable disease on our society. Adults who can take the vaccine should. It’s the responsible thing to do, to help protect children like mine and immunocompromised people of all ages who cannot be vaccinated. Vaccination doesn’t just protect those immunized but everyone they come into contact with, and as a parent, it’s a reasonable expectation that my children’s friends, teachers and others avoid making them sick.

Here we are, on the verge of a new year, on the verge of a new beginning, on the verge of a COVID vaccination. Like most parents, I hold concerns about the vaccine but will ultimately trust science, international health officials and our family doctor. I want to hear about the side effects, any adverse reactions and what happens next as our society turns the corner on COVID-19. Those facts will be documented and recorded and made available to the public. Trusting the process brings comfort because I know that like other vaccines, this one is also subject to testing, follow-up and standard protocols. It will continue to be researched and monitored, with further improvements likely to come over decades for use by future generations.

Most importantly, I’m committed to studying the science behind it, and I choose to put my faith in those who represent their field of expertise. I am a person of faith and I hold out hope for a better year.

This holiday season, as we gather around family and friends, virtually or otherwise, as we reflect on our lives and our communities, let us be grateful for those who have paved a way with science so vaccinations are readily available to our children. Let’s be thankful that we, as parents, have a choice and say in those vaccinations, and let us be hopeful for the new COVID-19 vaccinations. May they be fruitful in protecting our most vulnerable, as well as our neighbors next door.

About Ryan Elizabeth McLaughlin.

Ryan is a mother to five, gorgeous children, three of which have special needs. She’s been married to her partner, Michael McLaughlin, for over 18 years. Ryan’s personal mission includes championing for those who cannot speak for themselves.


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