Reasons to Vaccinate

Posted by  | Monday, July 21, 2008  at 10:50 PM  
My job today is to give you some reasons why my family decided to vaccinate and to vaccinate according to the AAP recommendations. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Vaccinations are given to protect your child from disease. Well, duh, I know, but it has to be said. Some of the diseases can be dangerous and/or fatal.

2. The Immunization Schedule put forth by the AAP has been studied in the order and spacing recommended and deemed safe. Now, there are varying side effects to immunizations and some children are at higher risk for these than others. This has been pointed out by many others and I believe it is a very valid point. But the other side of the argument needs to be put out there. The majority of children who receive vaccinations are not adversely affected by them.

3. There is a Public Health benefit to vaccinating all/almost all children. The reason our children today are not at a high risk of contracting some of these diseases is because of consistent immunizations.

4. Spacing out vaccines causes you to make extra trips to the doctor's office. This costs extra money and causes your child to have to get a shot or two every month. This can be traumatic to a child (and a mama). This may be a minor point, I realize, but it was an important one for me.

Here is how I arrived at our decision:

Around the time that Samuel was 18 months old and finished with his shots, I was due to give birth to Joel. I was still hearing a lot of things about vaccines and we had become a bit more health-nutty as a family, so I figured I better do some more research. I totally second Christina's recommendation to read Dr. Sear's Vaccine Book. I checked it out at my local library and read it cover to cover. The book gives a lot of information, facts and conclusions by Dr. Sears. He gives reasons why some parents do and some don't give each vaccine. It was a very helpful read. Check to see if your local library carries this book. If it doesn't, ask at the Reference Desk to see if they will order it for you to add to the library collection. My library did that for me.

After reading the book, I also had a candid discussion with my Pediatrician. Now, I am blessed to have a really great pediatrician. She spends oodles of time with me each time I go in for a visit and is great at hearing me out about things. I wanted to get her opinion on vaccinations as well. She went down the list of vaccines with me and explained which ones she thought were most important and which ones I could consider delaying/opting out of. She also told me why she supports the AAP's vaccine schedule. What she said made sense to me. She said that the AAP has studied these vaccines in the schedule in which they've set forth. Delaying or spacing out vaccines is outside of the studies they've done to ensure safety. This just gave me more food for thought as I considered what to do. She was very forthcoming about the unlikelihood that Joel would contract a lot of the diseases we vaccinate for, but also candid about the reality of the devastation of a disease should he contract one.

I think through it all my concern was less with the links between vaccines and autism or other problems and more with causing my child undo pain and putting things into him that he didn't really need.

In the end, we decided not to give Joel the Hep B vaccine in the hospital, or to have him circumsized (another issue altogether, I realize, but part of my point). I couldn't bring myself to inflict pain on such a tiny new baby. We decided to decline the Hep B vaccination altogether because of the unlikelihood that he would contract the illness.

At his two month appointment, I went ahead with all suggested vaccinations, including Rotavirus. I decided to do this for 3 reasons: 1) At 12 1/2 pounds and completely healthy, I felt he was big enough and well enough to handle them; 2) I was convinced through the Dr. Sears book that there is a strong Public Health benefit to vaccinating children; and 3) As my doctor had said, the AAP had studied the vaccinations given together, spaced the way they suggest and determined that they were safe. I was on the fence about the Rotavirus because the disease itself isn't necessarily all that bad. But I decided to go ahead in the end because: 1) It's not a shot, just an oral vaccine; 2) My doctor said it had been studied given in conjunction with the other vaccinations; 3) I have an older child in the home that will bring home germs; 4) My doctor said she wouldn't have had me do the Rotavirus vaccination a year ago, but she now feels more confident in its safety and eficacy.

Joel just had his 4 month appointment yesterday and we gave him all vaccinations again. I will follow on schedule with the exception of: No Hep B, Chickenpox, or Flu Shots. No Hep B because of reason given above, no Chickenpox because I rather they get the actual disease and have lifelong immunity (BUT, if they don't get it by 12 years old, then I will vaccinate because it is much more dangerous to get varicella as an adult), and no flu shots because no one in my family does them.

I want you to know that you can be a concerned parent and a "crunchy" mama and still vaccinate your children. But I also support my friends who don't vaccinate. Just consider both sides of the story.


jeffrey said...

Nicely said. I think the point is to educate yourself, make informed decisions, be united parents, and most of all - have guidance from the Lord for your family.


Leah said...

Thanks for your willingness to share your family's decision, Leah. I do have a question that maybe someone can answer. How does the vaccine question affect overseas travel or moving overseas as a missionary? If you move overseas or want to take your children on a trip overseas, do their vaccines have to be up-to-date? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who is not wanting to vaccinate her child against anything and when her hubby started doing research into it, he was told by someone (not sure the reliability) that customs can refuse a visa and other things if you don't have certain vaccines and can give you a more-than-normal hassle about returning to the US. That is all I know but I thought it was interesting. I have never traveled overseas, but Travis has also agreed that he has heard of customs doing that same thing. I would also be very interested in find out more info about this.

Sallie said...

Our son is on the autism spectrum and I don't know exactly what cause vaccines had to further it, but I can tell you he had symptoms BEFORE he ever had vaccines. They may trigger something, but I do not believe they are necessarily the cause. He has all of his vaccines up to date, as his youngest brother does as well.

We also have a child who has had allergic reactions to vaccines so he does not get those vaccines anymore.

My daughter has not had, and probably will not have, the HPV (cervical cancer) vaccine because I do not feel like there has been enough research into it.

At some point, as a Christian, you have to realize that your children are on loan to you from God. Once you do that, then it is easier to turn them over completely to Him and pray His protection over them.

God bless,

markandmeg said...

Just wanted to say that Dr. Sears has a blog where he discusses new beak-outs, vaccines, news on that issue, etc. I've found it to be pretty interesting. The blogsite is:
Meagan DeLong

Christy said...

I totally agree with you whether or not you vaccinate is a decision that you personally have to make. I agree we need to support others no matter what their decision is. I agree with the comment of Sallie about the HPV vaccine. I don't have any girls (yet) but this is one that I don't think I will have them get. I have looked into some things about it and I really think more research should be done.

ashley c said...

Sally....Just curious if you got the rhogam shot while pregnant?

Christy said...

Ashley my sister received the rhogam shots during her pregnancy. I'm not sure if with her first she got it just after the pregnancy but with the second I know she got them during the pregnancy. Not sure what you are wanting to know but both of my sisters girls are happy normal (whatever that might really be) children. I guess I am thinking you are curious of a link between rhogam and autism???

ashley c said...

I got 3-4 rhogam shots during pregnancy and my child has always been a little energized and it's not because of what he is eating. My two friends at church both have boys that were born screaming and didn't stop till they turned a year old then were still fussy. All three of our children have sensory issues. My other friend from church got the rhogam shot and now her child is developmentally delayed and has very little language or balance. I definitely think there is a genetic predisposition involved and it is triggered by rhogam in some and shots by others. I've read that over 49% of kids with neurological problems had RH negative moms....something else to think about. They just started giving rhogam during pregnancy in the late 80's. There is only a 1-2% chance something will happen if you don't get rhogam during pregnancy so if I had it to do over I would definitly only have the shot after the baby was born.

ashley c said...

I have also read it affects boys more than girls.

Christy said...

That's interesting information. I'll have to let my sister know. She's expecting again. I had heard about this but then again I am not rh negative so it isn't something that I had to really look into. Thanks for sharing the information.

Margaret said...

I am rh positive and chose not to receive the rhogam shot while pregnant. It seemed dangerous to me to vaccinate myself while carrying a developing baby when the shot might be unnecessary. We decided to wait until after our children were born, test their blood type (using cord blood) and then I would reveive the rhogam shot if needed. It wasn't needed either time! I am so glad I waited and didn't introduce anything unnecessary into my body while pregnant.

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