12 January 2013

Vaccines: The long, nitty gritty post that every parent should read.

So I finally did it.  I sat down & typed out my thoughts & feelings about vaccines.  I hope it spurs on other parents to do their own research!  The best source of information I found has been The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears.  It goes through each of the most common vaccines & goes over the following points:
-What is the disease?
-Is the disease common?
-When is the vaccine given?
-How is the vaccine made? (If there are multiple manufacturers, it goes over each one.)
-What ingredients are in the final vaccine solution?
-Are any of the ingredients controversial?
-Any combination shots it can be given with.
-What are the side effects of the vaccine? (Common side effects, severe reactions, postmarketing surveillance, and a summary of reactions.)
-Reasons to get the vaccine.
-Why some people choose not to give the vaccine.
-Options to consider.
-'The Way I See It'- his personal opinion.

Although he is a pro-vaccination kind of guy, I found the book very informative.  There is a lot of his personal opinion in there, but it gave me a jumping off point for my research.  Ingredients were one area that totally confused me.  I would hear that certain ingredients were bad-- but how much is actually in the vaccine, and why is it bad?  He explains that.  It's a lot better than trying to wade through zillions of websites trying to figure out which ones are legitimate and which ones are ridiculous (there are many on both sides).

Okay, so here it is... my thoughts on vaccines:

I believe that it is the parents who need to make decisions for the well-being of their own child, not the state or country.  Furthermore, I believe that EVERY parent should research each vaccine & decide along with a trusted doctor as to what is the best plan for their individual child.  I strongly believe that many parents do very little research, or none at all, regarding vaccines, and that is horrible.  If you are injecting something into your child's body, you need to be researching about it and make an informed decision.  I also believe that two people doing the exact same research can come to very different conclusions.  There is nothing wrong with vaccinating your child, or not vaccinating your child-- so long as you make an informed decision and are prepared for the consequences of your decision & how it will affect you & your child.

Now, as far as effectiveness.  Vaccines are not 100% effective, just like having the disease doesn't guarantee that you'll never get it again (even with things like Chicken Pox).  Personally, I don't want my daughter to have the flu or chicken pox, but I would rather her get the actual sickness than the vaccine because of the risks involved with both.

There is also very little research regarding vaccines, and none of them are from unbiased resources.  This doesn't mean that they aren't harmful, but it also doesn't confirm that they are safe.  Did you know that for the Hep B vaccine that is given AT BIRTH that the research was funded by the vaccine manufacturers & some of the researchers were subsequently hired by the manufacturers, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck?  Some of the CDC members who voted it be added to the infant vaccine schedule received funding from the manufacturer as well.  That doesn't prove anything, but it does represent a huge conflict of interest.  Furthermore, Hep B isn't even a childhood disease.  It is transferred from the mom during birth, through blood transfusions, or through blood contact.  To me, that just seems fishy.  There is not compelling reason to give it to them, especially at birth, so why is it pushed so much?

Then there is the Rotavirus vaccine.  It was taken off of the market in 1999 because of the high risk of intussusception (never mind that 1 in 1000 infants had a seizure after getting it).  Before it was taken off the market, it was on the recommended vaccine schedule.  So all parents following the regular vaccine schedule at that time gave their child that vaccine, that was actually deemed unsafe in the end.  So how much is that happening now?  The flu vaccine is new every year.  It would be over & done with before it could even be taken off the market.

But what about if your child gets the chicken pox of rotavirus?  Boy, is it ever going to stink!  A parent has to take off work & avoid social activities & who knows- it could fall during a planned vacation.  But that is part of it if one chooses against certain (or all) vaccines.  It's important to consider how close & available a hospital or doctors office is as well.  Most places in the US, I would venture to say, are within a reasonable distance.

Regarding other children, it's actually a risk on both sides.  When a non vaccinated child is around another child or adult who has been vaccinated recently, for many of the vaccines there is something called shedding.  That means that for a period of time afterwards (it's different with each one), there is a likelihood that they can pass that sickness on to others.  So for anyone who hasn't had the flu shot, working alongside others who have had it, they are at a higher risk of getting the flu than if their co-worker had never gotten the shot.  Because vaccines have been pushed so much, everyone looks at the non-vaccinated & say "why aren't you doing it, too?"  But the reality is, everyone should be allowed to make their own decisions.  That goes for public school, too.  Instead of saying "you have to vaccinate your kids for them to come" why don't they say, "You have to vaccinate your kid to get them into private school... public school is for everyone else!"  It's just a paradigm shift.

So there it is... an overview of my thoughts on vaccines. It's a bit exhausting to research everything I do with my daughter (ear piercing, vaccines, the food I feed her, etc), but I feel that it is part of being a parent.  And the thing is, vaccines are constantly changing, so research is never really done.

One final thought.  Don't treat others differently for their decisions.  Don't treat their kids differently.  Consider each person as a human being with real thoughts & feelings... after all, that's what they are!


Sportsmom0323 said...

Interesting thoughts. I had both of mine vaccinated when they were little. We didn't do the Chicken Pox vaccine because they both actually got it before it was widely available so I didn't have to decide about that one. Neither of my children had any long term ill effects due to vaccines. I agree with you, however, that there is much more research to be done. Stepping off in a different direction, as a teacher who has some issues with her health, and knowing that many of my coworkers have greater concern than I do, parents MUST be considerate if their child is sick. I have already been sick more this school year than the last 4 or 5 put together and I blame much of it on students coming in the door when they should be home recuperating. This has nothing to do with them being vaccinated or not, but if we are going to let parents have more freedom of choice about vaccines then ALL parents must be aware of their children's health and when they have contagious illnesses. Sadly, many still don't think about sending their mildly ill child to school.

fowler said...

I couldn't agree more! Spreading sickness is just not cool. It stinks to have to take off work to stay at home with a kid who may not be super sick, but it's important for parents to remember that it is our job to do so-- we are parents!

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