Vaccines - Revisited

Posted by  | Wednesday, December 24, 2008  at 8:00 AM  
Here's another hot topic from recent months - vaccinations! This was written by me (Christina) and you all gave some great discussion. Read the original post and all comments here. Also - read the opinions and ideas from Leah and Hollie as well. Merry Christmas Eve!

It seems like the question of whether or not to vaccinate is really taking center stage in recent years. Even since my son was born two years ago, Jenny McCarthy has written a book about her experience with her son and autism. There have been supreme court decisions, books, Oprah specials and commercial campaigns making the public very aware of autism and the possible link to vaccinations. The link between vaccinations (specifically the MMR) and autism is probably the most "famous" debate, but it's not the only concern with vaccinations.

Before I go any further, let me encourage you all to remember our purpose of this blog. We are seeking to simply share information with you, not make a decision for you. In fact, the authors of this blog all have different approaches to vaccines. My hope is that this information will give you a starting point to consider the issue for your family and children.

Becoming a parent involves so many decisions that we have to make for our children. Many parents don't even think to question something like vaccinations that their doctor assures them are necessary and safe. I certainly didn't question vaccines when my son was born and he has been fully vaccinated since birth. With the coming of our second child, I began to learn more and more about dangers associated with vaccinations. We now have a new plan for vaccinating Adeline. She will receive most of the recommended vaccinations, just not all at once. You can visit the CDC's (Centers for Disease Control) and the AAP's (American Academy of Pediatrics) websites to see the recommended course for immunizations.

So, where should you start in getting more information about vaccines?

I HIGHLY recommend that you do two things:

1. Print out a copy of the immunization schedule from either of the above websites. I also got a copy of the schedule that my pediatrician's office follows as well. It helped me to keep it all straight as I learned about each vaccination.

2. Get a copy of this book:

It is written by Dr. Sears (well one of them at least!) and is VERY helpful. He clearly states that it is not an "anti-vaccine" book. It is (in my opinion) as close as you can get to an unbiased presentation of concerns surrounding each vaccination. He gives reasons and support FOR and AGAINST each vaccination. He also does not even address the autism link, yet still fills the entire book with other issues with each vaccine! In short, his recommendation is a delayed vaccination schedule. He gives examples of such schedules in his book.

Here is what was written on Amazon:

"Sears, coauthor of several books in the Sears Parenting series, addresses one of today's most controversial and worrisome questions. Sears' goal is "to give you a balanced look at pros and cons of vaccination so that you can make an educated decision." Sears does not advocate for or rail against vaccination, stating it doesn't have to be an all or nothing decision-there are choices. The first 12 chapters discuss each vaccination in the childhood series, providing explanation of the relative disease, how the vaccine is made and points to assess a child's at-risk level when considering if the vaccine is necessary. Sears does offer guidance for those who are indecisive, offering his opinion based on clinical experience and 13 years of research taken from product inserts, pediatric reference books, articles and databases. Additional chapters illuminate more controversial aspects of the debate, such as how vaccine safety is researched and what the findings are, side effects and how to minimize them, common myths and questions. As always, Sears' tone puts readers at ease as he clearly explains medical terms and elucidates debates."

Despite the last sentence of this description - I do think the book was quite technical with a lot of medical terms. Dr. Sears does a good job in explaining each, but some might find the book a little too technical and scientific. My undergrad degree is Biology and I loved reading about all the research on each vaccine. My point is that other's might not. However, of all the information on vaccinations available over the internet, this is the most succinct presentation of the research on vaccines. This is why I recommend it as a starting point.

After reading this book and doing other research- I have a couple of "rules" for vaccinating Adeline. She gets no more than two vaccinations at a time (taking aluminum content into account-read the book!) and never when she is sick. She has gotten two vaccines at each one month old, two months and three months. She will not get the rotavirus vaccine (the oral one). Ultimately, I chose to vaccinate her for several reasons. Mainly because my background in science will not let me just dismiss the public health view of vaccinations. The other reason was that even after researching and reading, I simply did not feel comfortable leaving her with no protection against some of these diseases. I prayed about this issue (seriously!) and really did not feel convicted to abandon the recommended vaccines entirely.

I will say that we have received mixed reviews at our peds office. Some doctors are more ok with our plan than others. At the hospital, we declined the Hep B vaccination. The nurses and doctor never blinked an eye. They were completely supportive. We did have to sign a waiver of some kind. When we are questioned by a doctor, I kindly tell them that we have made our decision and it is what we are comfortable with.

Later this week, the other's will address some more specific issues and more sources for information. In the meantime - feel free to ask questions or share your ideas.

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