February 19th, 2009
I have received several emails requesting information about vaccinations and how we spaced them out for Emory. Today I’m (finally) putting together a post about it. I’m also going to talk about what I’d change should we ever go about this again.
Let me just begin by stating that I’m pro-vaccination, but I haven’t always felt that way. In fact, right after Em was born, I considered refusing vaccinations all together. I, like many first-time mothers, was concerned about causing undo bodily harm to this perfect little person. I was also worried about injecting him with all sorts of potentially nasty viruses. I’m one of “those” mothers—the type of mother who only feeds her son organic fruits, vegetables and milk. And I worried myself silly over BPA.
I work hard to keep my son toxin-free. And while being vaccinated always made sense to me in the past, it became an entirely different story when it came to my child.
So, what did I do? I researched the bloody hell out of it. I turned myself into a pediatrician’s worst nightmare. (Not because they like ignorant parents, but because uppity parents with an internet connection can prove to be VERY annoying. I won’t deny this.)
By researching vaccinations I began to feel a whole lot better about them. As an A+ worrier, I recommend that you do the same. Don’t take my word for anything. Read up on stuff, ask questions, and most importantly look back at your own vaccination records (ask your folks, siblings, whatever) and find out if you or any member of your family has ever had a negative reaction associated with a vaccine.
If you find that your pediatrician isn’t willing to space them out for you, then you have the option of finding a new pediatrician. While I was met with a worried look from my own, as soon as she realized that I wasn’t refusing anything we worked together very well.
However, before you run off thinking your pediatrician is forcing you to do something against your will, put yourself in their shoes for a minute. They’re doctors! They have seen diseases once considered a distant memory rear their heads all over again solely because parents are refusing to vaccinate their children.
I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a pediatrician right now. I reckon it’d be like forcing me to design something in QuarkXpress on OS 9.
Anyway, enough about that. Here is a snapshot of what the CDC recommends for any child under 6.
To this day, we still haven’t started him on the HepB vaccine, not because we’re worried about it, but because Emory was in the NICU at the time he was scheduled to have the shot. (Babies receive HepB now before they even leave the hospital.)
(Side note: I once went to an orientation at a pediatrician’s office where I heard two couples express concern over giving their (sons) a shot so early—Won’t it hurt!? Those same parents planned on having their boys circumcised. I can’t imagine a shot is going to hurt any more than a circumcision. Although, I admittedly have no penis and therefore haven’t ever been circumcised.)
We plan on starting him on HepB the moment we’re caught up with everything else. You see, that’s the thing about spacing out vaccines, you fall behind. The schedule is set up for a reason. That’s not to say you can’t space them out, but come preschool or kindergarten, you may find yourself playing catch up.
We also opted out of the influenza vaccine. I entered the winter season dead against giving Emory the flu shot mainly because it still features a preservative known as thimerosal. (CDC Web site) And while I don’t think said preservative leads to autism, it still makes me nervous. I did get one for myself, however, but it was the pregnancy version—the version made without the preservative. (No, I’m not pregnant.)
I am still not sure what we will do next winter when it comes to the flu vaccine.
(I am only just now realizing, based on that graphic above, that there’s also a Hepatitis A vaccine. This is news to me!)
The final vaccine we have not yet begun is the Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccine. I’m still on the fence when it comes to this vaccine because of its newness. I have no other reason to avoid it. And recently I started to think about it a bit more and I’m wondering if we made the right decision to wait. It’s conceivable that since more and more families are opting for the vaccine, he might not get the virus during his elementary school years as seen in previous generations. And I seem to remember someone saying the older you get, the harder the virus hits you.
So, maybe it’s wise we have him vaccinated for Chickenpox. But it still makes me a little nervous. I need to read more.
All that said, here’s the schedule we went with.
- 2 Months: PCV (pneumococcal)
- 3 Months: HIB (bacterial meningitis) and IPV (polio)
- 4 Months: PCV
- 5 Months: HIB
- 7 Months: DTaP
- 9 Months: HIB and PCV
- 10 Months: DTaP
- 13 Months DTaP
- 14 Months: IPV
- 16 Months: MMR
- 17 Months: IPV and PCV
We were nervous in the beginning, which is why he was given only one shot at a time with the exception of his 3-month visit. We paired up the HIB and IPV at three months because common side effects associated with the HIB vaccine are harmless, and the not so common side effects are so rare it’s questionable they’re even linked to the vaccine.
I wasn’t at all worried about IPV (polio) because it’s been around for so long and has an excellent safety record.
DTaP has more common and serious side effects but after receiving so many doses of it, I’m now longer worried about it. Emory didn’t get so much as a fever from the DTaP.
All that said, Emory has had two side effects after receiving vaccinations. The first one took place on November 13th. About three hours after he was given the polio vaccine and the HIB vaccine he woke up screaming. Nothing Toby or I did consoled him. We called the on-call doctor who informed us that for whatever reason some babies do this the first (in our case second) time they get vaccinated and never do it again. She was right. He never screamed like that again.
We’ve since been told that he most likely had a sore leg. So, from that point forward, we gave him a small dose of Tylenol or Motrin to alleviate any aches and pains.
The only other time he had a reaction from a vaccine was with the MMR (yes, the dreaded MMR). Many of us (myself included) got wrapped up in the frenzy over whether or not it’s linked to autism. I do not believe that to be the case at all anymore. Recently studies have shown that Andrew Wakefield fixed his data. Everything he claimed has basically been tossed out. But the ramifications of his carelessness could be devastating.
Taken from the article linked to above:
“Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease.”
In the end, the MMR was nothing. Emory got the usual low-grade fever (101) and a slight rash on his torso a week after he was given the MMR. (Normal.) It was gone in a day.
If I had to do it all again, I would definitely double up more often, because now we’re playing catch up. But I do wish that the CDC would come up with a slightly less aggressive schedule even if that means more trips to the doctor.
Now I make NO apologies for being very pro-vaccine. I think the right thing to do is vaccinate our children. I think it’s in the best interest for the greater good as well as the individual. No, I don’t think that the US government should make anything mandatory—I rather like living in a country where we’re given the freedom of choice. But I do hope that each person gathers the information they need to make informed choices instead of being driven by fear. And while that’s not the case for everyone refusing vaccinations, I was definitely in that camp, which leads me to believe that I was/am not alone.
I welcome you to discuss the pros and cons of vaccinations here. I also welcome you to disagree with me (constructively).Tags: debate, vaccinations