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.