Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to Blogging... with a Vaccination Question

I'm back! My blog break was kinda unofficial, since I never announced it here, but with so many other people taking a break, it seemed like it would be okay. I had a horrible cold, which turned into a sinus infection, which further fueled my Olympic Obsession of sitting on the couch and watching TV.

Due to the possible conflicts that the post below brings up, please read the whole thing before commenting! Thank you.

So, on my first day back I have a big question. There has been an outbreak of measles in the US, and it's due to vaccination rates in the US dropping in recent years. I just don't understand the problem with vaccines, but I'm trying to understand. I consider myself a very educated, careful mother, and I find it almost insulting that some friends think I've made a bad choice by vaccinating. Here are my reasons for giving Love Bug vaccines:

1. The link between autism and the MMR vaccine is completely unfounded, as stated in this article. I actually know a few children from my years in education who were NOT vaccinated, due to family history of autism, but they still were diagnosed with it later.

2. Vaccination is important to us since we live overseas and we've travelled to countries in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, where vaccination rates are lower. From teaching in an economic disadvantaged area, I have seen what measles or diphtheria can do to babies who are too young to be vaccinated or those who can't be vaccinated, due to serious illnesses. Here is a direct quote from this article:

"In the decade before the measles vaccination program began, an estimated 3 to 4 million persons in the United States were infected each year. Of these, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and another 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis."

Compare this to the measles vaccine, which only causes serious complications in 3 out of a million vaccines given, and has hardly ever been a cause of death in the millions upon millions of shots given.

3. I want to protect my children from problems later in life. Rubella (the R in MMR, also called German Measles) is fatal to unborn children when you're pregnant. If it doesn't kill the baby or cause a miscarriage, it can cause birth defects. I found out during my pregnancy that I'm not immune to Rubella, even though I was vaccinated twice. My doctor said that immunity can wane, but it's uncommon, and that I just need to get another MMR shot after I deliver. Most mothers she tests are immune. It's made my pregnancy very stressful, having to avoid situations where people may be unvaccinated. Immunity weakening (as in my case) is very rare, but if I don't get Love Bug vaccinated, then she will always have to worry during her child-bearing years. I've also heard the vaccine for Varicella (chicken pox) called unnecessary, but both my children will be vaccinated. Love Bug could give it to her adult husband, or Dragonfly could get it as an adult, which can cause sterility in over half of the reported cases.

So I want to know why people don't do it. I stated my reasons pretty clearly above, and I'm definitely willing to listen to MOST arguements for not vaccinating. If you have good reasons, then please tell me (nicely), so I can understand this better. I've been given these reasons listed below from friends of mine, but I don't think they're valid, so please come up with something else:

1. "If your children are vaccinated, it will be mine who gets sick, so why do you care?" I care because I'm at risk for catching Rubella, which could cause miscarriage or fetal death during my pregnancy. Losing your immunity is rare, but vaccines only work about 95 - 99% of the time, so we rely on each other to confere herd immunity. What about newborn babies who are too young to get vaccines? What about the elderly, or the sick who didn't get vaccines? What about HIV/AIDS patients, or cancer patients on chemotherapy, who could still contract the diseases no matter what vaccines they had, because their immune systems are so weak? That's why I care.

2. "I'm not putting my children at risk just for the good of everyone else." Vaccines carry much lower risk than the actual diseases themselves. And if someone really feels this way, then shouldn't they go live in the country, away from eveyone else? We live in a society and we have to live by rules for the good of everyone sometimes, and this includes public health issues, like vaccines. If this is the logic, then should people be able to drive fast, and potentially cause fatal car accidents, just because they have a good reason for being in a hurry?

3. "They put terrible stuff in vaccines, like aborted fetuses." This isn't true, but yes, there are human compounds in vaccines, but they are only used as a host for the infection, so the tissues can fight the disease and the defeated virus can be injected as a vaccine. The compound they use is produced by the human liver, and it should be noted, that only a living, breathing person has a productive enough liver to make this compound.

So what do you think? The playgroup I'm involved in here is thinking of not allowing unvaccinated children to attend. I don't know what to think. Most playgroups I've been involved in overseas have been through my husband's job, and they have a strict vaccination policy for everyone in the family. If you don't get all your shots, you don't move overseas. But it may come up at some point during my childrens' lives, if outbreaks continue. I think if someone could give me a good reason, I would be more understanding. But for the time being, I can't understand it. I can't understand why children aren't allowed to bring PB & J sandwiches to school because of children with allergies, but they can come unvaccinated and possibly spread it around to the newborn siblings, or immune compromised people who live with their classmates.


*carrie* said...


I have to say I don't fully understand this issue--will be interesting to read others' comments.

Love the fall polka dots!

Leah in Iowa said...

Love your new blog look! I'm glad it worked for you. Easy, wasn't it!? =)

About vaccinations... my kids have had all the "normal" ones. When it came time for the chicken pox vaccine, I asked my Christian doctor what to do, and he said it was up to me. I asked what they had done with their boys, and he said they'd already had the CP before the vaccine was released. He also said with CP, he'd rather have his kids have them the good old-fashioned old way. He said if I could diagnose them and call him within 24 hours, he could prescribe something for them to help with the severity of pox. I caught them early and my girls had light to moderate cases. Nothing bad at all.

I guess knowing that vaccines are actually small doses of the actual "disease", I'd rather have my kids have that than the full-blown disease with all the possible side effects. To me, CP is different because it's not a life-threatening illness.

Will be watching to hear what others say.

Cheri said...

Okay - I love the new look too. Shoot me an email and let me know who helped.

Vaccinations. Hmmm. The Boy had them all, mostly because we're in the military and travel overseas just like you guys. Also because no one could give me a good solid reason not to.

CP. Wasn't going to, but did. Not because of the CP themselves, but because of the risk of all open sores (ala MRSA risk).

Danielle said...

I also love the new look! How do you do that?

Anyway,the topic at hand...I honestly don't get it either.

I was, however, blown away that kids can't take PB&J to school?!?!?! Are you serious?

tootie said...

First, I like your new blog look! So cute!

Second, I think you are making the right choices with the vaccines. (It's obvious that you've done your homework!) I learned a lot from your post - thanks for sharing!

Kathleen said...

First off, I love your new design! Very cute!

I too have had questions about vaccines, and forget about looking online because you get too many hardcore nuts touting both sides. I bought Dr. Sears Vaccine Book when I was pregnant and I found that to be the most helpful, unbiased information. I ended up vaccinating my son, except for the Hep B virus when I was in the hospital. And you can't believe how "branded" I was for refusing. We had a huge Scarlet Letter type note in red pen stuck onto the front of our chart for all to see, which annoyed me. And you can't count how many times doctors and nurses bugged us about getting it (and still do!). The risk for that disease is so low for kids (you get it from shared drug use, unprotected sex and transfusions). Unless we're going to the red light district in Amsterdam, no thanks!

My problem with vaccines is not related to autism, but to how many shots they get in such a short amount of time. I wish they would space them out more and not inject our poor little ones with so much stuff so soon, especially if they're not going to daycare. There were no pediatricians in our area who accepted patients who didn't adhere to vaccine schedules so we really had no choice but to vaccinate.

Thanks for an interesting post!

Nicol said...

I like you feel that vaccinations are important.

bren j. said...

That last sentence is a brilliant query! We've done all the vaccinations mostly because we feel like we're giving our LG a leg-up so to speak. Why should she have to endure an illness if there's a really easy way to prevent it? Also, I have relatives (albeit distant ones but it was enough to scare me) that have died from chicken pox. I can't understand why we should risk it?

Beyond that, my husband works at a hospital and is in contact with sick people all the time. We feel like it's doubly important to protect our girl considering all the things he could be bringing home without even knowing it!

Susan said...

I am pretty pro vaccination oriented. Contageous dangerous diseases like Smallpox, Diptheia etc should be a must. However there are too many in one shot. JR had reacted terribly to the shots. Within 2 hours had servere reactions which we have been dealing with for 5 days. He was reacting within 2 hours of shots. It is just too strong.

Working in insurance, there are a lot of autistic kids are there. I have talked to parents which did say after the shot, their kid was not the same. Rate of incidents are unknown. Pharmaceudical companies are the largest lobbiest after the NRA, nobody can fight them. They have enough money to cover their butts and push lawmakers into corners. However, a government has to decide for the masses. I feel bad for those who's kids could not kick the possible side effects of the shots.

If I was a little more educated before hand, I would have refused probably the chicken pox vaccine at least until later. Found these kids are getting Shingles instead of the chicken pox. Probably why Leah's CP opted to have it the "old fashioned way". In Texas they are making it mandatory for girls to be vaccinated against Ovarian Cancer. In a bit, it will be everyone in US because the Pharmaceudical Company has the bucks to push politicians. I am curious about how many more mandatory vaccines these companies are making to pad their pockets that are not necessary.

Tari said...

I agree with you 200%. I've posted a few thing on this too - it drives me nuts that people free ride on the US vaccination system and put others in danger.

I would skip the chicken pox vaccine if I could have a do over with my boys. A friend's children had the pox after they were vaccinated twice by the same doctor we see, so I'm not sure I see the point. But the other illnesses are so serious I'm not going to ask my kids to take that risk.