Posted in Amelia, Amelia on parenting angst, Blog, Caring for your baby, Featured, Gear, Health and safety, Reviews

Catering to both my scientific- and fear-based beliefs

Let me start by saying this: The purpose of this website is to be a place of support for moms, a place where various ways of doing things are discussed, so moms can both broaden their perspectives and share “this is what worked for me and my family” so that it might help others. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate has become a very sensitive and political issue. This post isn’t meant to incite a ideological war or to be a criticism of those who choose to do things differently than me. This post is to explain why and how I chose to vaccinate my child, in case you, the reader, are struggling with this decision and want to know why one might choose to vaccinate their children.

I am a public health person. I think vaccines are vital to the health of a communityas well as to the individuals who

Herd immunity?

receive them. Vaccines prevent or lessen the impact of diseases–polio, diptheria, Hib, the hepatituses A and B, measles, mumps, rubella, flu, whooping cough, and more–and save lives. Not getting sick with a life-threatening illness? What’s not to like? (Again, have I mentioned that I’m a germaphobe?) I choose to vaccinate my child because I want to protect her from serious illnesses and because I want to protect the health of my community. And the more people are vaccinated, the more power those vaccines have at preventing disease within the individual. (Here is a link to a good, brief overview article, “Why Vaccinate?”)

Now here’s the part where I fully admit that I let fear overrule science. I *know* that on the whole, in study after study, vaccines have proven to be relatively safe, even many administered in one go. But on a visceral level, the idea of exposing a tiny body to *that many* scary chemicals and diseases all at once is off-putting. A friend recommended pediatrician Dr. Bob Sears’ “The Vaccine Book,” which I of course read cover to cover, and highlighted as well as post-it noted. In it, Dr. Sears (son of attachment parenting gurus Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, RN) provides a fairly neutral overview of all the childhood vaccines, explaining 1) what the disease is, 2) is it common, 3) is it serious, 4) is it treatable, 5) when is the vaccine given, 6) how is it made, 7) what ingredients are in it, 8 ) what are the side effects, 9) reasons people get it or don’t, and 10) the bottom line as a pediatrician sees it (literally, like in his office, and figuratively).

He also provides the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended vaccine schedule, as well as gives parents who are planning to delay or space out vaccines an alternative schedule that does just that. He writes, “I offer [parents] an optional schedule that gets their child fully vaccinated, but at a slower pace. It doesn’t delay any of the most important shots, but it slightly delays some shots that are for lower-risk diseases.”

I can’t recommend this book enough if you’re on the fence; it really helped me make my decisions about vaccines, and I appreciated the lack of extreme polarity in his viewpoints. At the end of the day, though, he is pro-vaccine, but tries to help parents who might be waffling comfortably figure out a way to achieve full vaccination. Which was me all over–totes pro-vaccine, yet admittedly irrationally squeamish about the traditionally-recommended path towards it.

I know that Dr. Sears has received some criticism for this schedule, and that the efficacy of this schedule has not been scientifically proven (or studied, as far as I know). I also know that myriad population studies have shown multi-administered vaccines are safe. However, I can’t help going with my gut here, which tells me on the one hand that if there’s something I can do to protect my child from harm, you bet your bippy Imna do it–but on the other hand, man that’s a lot all at once! Dr. Sears’ book and schedule helped me find a happy medium between science and fear.

From the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

While I have delayed E’s vaccines in some cases, I will say that in our family, we practice herd immunity (the idea that if a critical mass of the population has immunity to something, those without immunity are protected because there is little opportunity for an outbreak to occur). For example, both my husband and I got immunized for whooping cough early on in E’s life. (Whooping cough in particular is horrible and life-threatening for babies under 6 months; it’s typically unknowingly passed on to infants by their caregivers.) Same for the flu shot–both my husband and I got shots, as did my family and in-laws before we went to visit them for Thanksgiving. So that is another way to prevent disease without exposing baby to various inoculations for various communicable diseases.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *