Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Vaccine Debate

Dylan will go to his 6 month well-baby visit tomorrow. While I'm excited to find out the weight, growth, and general well-being of my little guy, I'm also dreading the whole vaccine business. I always got Ethan's shots at the Health Department, so these "well" visits were much more relaxed.

It's so funny to see how much I've changed over the past four years. With Ethan, I definitely cried when I had to supplement him with formula, but I didn't go crazy researching which formula to get. I trusted a generic brand of Enfamil Lipil and never looked back.

With Dylan, I have researched until I'm blue in the face only to find that there is only one truly organic formula on the market, and it's for Toddlers. Even Earth's Best Organic has added ARA and DHA that is extracted using the chemical Hexane. And if you look at the ingredient list, one has to wonder where all those chemicals come from.

I haven't varied much with vaccines. I will admit that with Ethan, I did research the mess out of them. And ultimately, I decided he would get NO vaccines at two months and that I would get them as I saw fit. It worked out just fine. That kid never even ran a fever. But true to form, I have taken things much further with baby #2. Why?

It's not because I didn't care enough with baby #1. Far from it. I just knew less. I had SO much to learn about being a mom that I was on information overload. This time, I'm not concerned with the little things like figuring out how to get rid of cradle cap. I'm concerned with what I scratched the surface of with Ethan. Those big-ticket items.

Enter Vaccines.

I just finished The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears. This is not an anti-vaccine book. Quite the opposite. He provides very detailed information about why vaccines are positive. But he also provides very detailed, very real information about why they are given, when they are given, which ones have the strongest side-effect profiles, what ingredients are in them, and what ingredients may cause the problems. He never says, "Don't get this one," or "You MUST get this one." And he says that if you're going to breastfeed for at least two years and your child will not go to childcare, they probably don't need them. But obviously, that's not my case. So here's what I took from the book:
  • Just as I suspected when I researched the ingredient list myself, giving infants multiple shots in one day that contain aluminum builds up. While all of the studies really revolve around the effects of giving IVs to NICU babies, the general consensus is that a build-up or overexposure of aluminum is bad for baby's brain. B-R-A-I-N. So why in God's name is it okay to give babies a shot that contains 250 micrograms of the nasty stuff followed directly by another that contains 175 micrograms? That's a whopping 425 micrograms of ALUMINUM that we're sticking them with. And you could very likely end up with more....but I left the book in the car, so I can't tell you just how much. 
  • There are three main diseases/illnesses that are more prevalent between birth and age 2 that babies will likely encounter. 1). Pertussis. We've all heard this. Trouble is, you can't get Pertussis without also getting Diptheria and Tetanus--two they are unlikely to encounter as infants. Good news? The old scary DTP is no more because it had TOO MANY severe reactions. We now offer an acellular pertussis. Apparently safer. 2). Pneumococcal Disease. This sucker is transmitted just like the common cold. And while most all babies will encounter it---it's that common---few will turn into something serious such as pneumonia or MENINGITIS. But this is that scary Prevnar that has a pretty lengthy list of side effects. 3). HIB. Again, this sucker is spread like the cold, but it usually hangs out in the nose. If it gets in the lungs, though, well, you're in for a life-threatening treat. 
  • After calculating the number of shots given over a child's lifetime and looking at the risk of serious reaction, it equates to about 1 in 2600. Seriously. For each single-dose shot, it's 1 in 100,000. 
  • MMR has the most hefty side-effect profile, but it's unlikely that a child is going to encounter one of these and less likely that they'll die. If you hold off until their four, they'll only need ONE DOSE to meet school requirements. And the chances of a severe reaction increase with each shot given. ONE DOSE. Sign me up! 
  • Reasons for still getting the Polio shot, which has been eradicated in the US is simple. Safety in herds. It hasn't been eradicated all over the world. It could easily make a come back. That doesn't mean my 6-month old needs to get it RIGHT NOW because he's in contact with LOTS of international people. 
  • Prior to vaccines, more children than we can imagine caught and died from these illnesses. We are fortunate to live in a time when the reality of such diseases feels more like something we see in a history book rather than hear from our neighbor. 
  • As a parent, I have the RIGHT to decide when my child gets vaccines. Two states have created laws that make it mandatory for all kids to be vaccinated. Few allow you to say no based on philosophical reasons. 
There's more, much more. But I left the book in the car. Oh, Hep B? BAD. And they give that puppy at birth unless you're smart enough to know that you should say NO!

And so here's where I currently stand. If I could, I would say, no way in hell are you sticking my child." That's what I want to say. But I can't because I do believe in the positive aspects they've had. Do I think there are too many and that we load our kids up with chemicals they don't need. You bet your ass I do and it disgusts me.

So far, Dylan has had the Rotavirus series and the DTaP. Tomorrow, he'll get the Prevnar and just the Prevnar. Mommy will be a wreck all damn day and night, but at least I'll know that his little body is only working on one foreign object rather than the recommended FIVE shots they want to give him. And since DTaP and Prevnar protect against two things I know he'll encounter, I will feel a little more at ease. Were I a stay-at-home mom that planned to breastfeed for two years, I wouldn't get those either. But I'm not, and he has an older brother that will brings tons home too. Although, I'm trying to minimize that risk as well, but that's for another day. :) 


  1. I think it's awesome how much effort you've put into researching these. I just accepted the recommendations and vaccinated them accordingly. I never thought to question it. Fortunately there were no ill effects from it.

  2. *Cue Angels Singing* I've been wanting - needing to research ALL of this. And I still do plan to read up on it. But that doesn't change the fact that I'm SO HAPPPY you wrote this post. I feel like I'm a little more up to speed on what I might need anyway.

    I requested a vaccine schedule from the doctor and here's what mine says: They combine the DTaP in a shot called Pediarix - inside it you will find the DTaP, Polio and Hep B. I was told I could not get them separate. Needless to say Chloe hasn't had any shots. Help.