Recently, it’s been a question that crosses the mind of nearly all new parents. Should I get my child vaccinated? The answer, unfortunately, is not so straightforward or easy. I knew well before I was even pregnant that this would be a difficult topic for my husband and I, so as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I read almost everything I could find on the topic. I couldn’t imagine being unprepared when it came time to vaccinate. I started out by reading Aviva Jill Romm’s Vaccination book. Her book on natural childbirth and pregnancy had been very helpful to me throughout my pregnancy, so I figured her book on vaccines would be as well. While I thouroughly enjoyed the book and her attempt to show both risks and benefits of vaccination, she did not delve into much of the arguments that lie behind the proponents of vaccination. While I knew that I definitely saw things through her eyes more than and vaccine propontent, I wanted to hear both sides so I knew what I was up against. A friend of mine mentioned hearing about Dr. Robert Sears’ The Vaccine Book on a morning show, so I figured I would give it a shot.
The book ended up being wonderful. With over 13 years of research, he offered a well-balanced approach to the vaccine question. For each vaccine, he explained what you were vaccinating yourself from (tetanus, hepatitus, etc..), if the disease was common, if it was serious, treatable, how the vaccine was made, the ingredients, side effects, why people choose to get it, why people choose to skip it, and various alternatives. He ends each chapter with his opinion about the administration of the shot. While he ultimately decides in favor of administering all vaccinations, he deviates greatly from the AAP’s recommended vaccine schedule by delaying many shots, only administering two at a time, and suggests titters before administering boosters. He even offers a selective vaccine schedule for those parents that wish to only vaccinate against a few.
Based on the information I read in these two books, my pro-vaccination husband, and some serious compromising, we have come out somewhere in between the two. Here’s what we’ve decided:
- Hepatitus B, which is typically administered at birth, would be delayed until much later in life. Since the only ways of transmittting the disease are from an infected mother, intravenous drug use, or sexual activity, we hope we have a LONG time before we have to worry about any of that.
- I would only give the baby one shot at a time. If this meant going to the doctor’s once a month, that was fine. I choose the vaccines that protected him against the most serious of the diseases within his first year of life. By the end of his first year, he will be fully vaccinated for 4 of the 11 vaccines. (Many vaccines have 3 or 4 doses).
- As far as aluminum goes, I alternate months with the vaccines that contain aluminum. If in March he recieved a vaccine with aluminum, in April he will get one without. I have also made sure that if there is a company that makes a vaccine without it, he gets that brand.
- When its time for the MMR, it will be broken up into 3 shots, seperated by a year in between each shot.
- A week before and after each shot, we load up on probiotics, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A.
- We will not administer the flu, chicken pox, or meningococcal (I am still working on polio!)
So far, everything has gone smoothly. When I visited Wallingford Pediatrics for a meet-and-greet and I mentioned that I wanted to do an alternative schedule, they welcomed the idea. When I take Liam in for his check-up, they kindly ask (without pressure or guilt) “We’re you thinking about giving him a vaccine today?”
I know that many parents ultimately decide not to vaccinate, and I respect their decision. Some of the anti-vaccine arguments though, I don’t. I was amazed to read one argument that implied that vaccines had nothing to do with the decrease in disease. It claimed “the diseases were declining before the vaccine was administered.” While I understand that through natural selection, many people will grow immunity to diseases, I think if you ask someone in sub-Saharan Africa how natural selection has played out for them, you would get a much different story. Thousands, if not millions, would be thankful for a vaccine against meningitus. There are even several countries, like India, where polio is still a risk. I think that we are very lucky to live in a country where we as parents have a choice. We must keep in mind though that one of the reasons that we have a choice is because so many of us in the US are, in fact ,vaccinated.
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