ControverSunday: Vaccines!

by Ginger on February 21, 2010

in Mom Thoughts

This week’s ControverSunday is all about one of the biggest controversies in the parenting world–vaccines! Let’s piss some people off, shall we?

There was never any doubt in our minds that Jackson would get vaccinated, with the recommended full schedule. We toyed briefly with the idea of delaying vaxs or spacing them a little, but that thought lasted all of, maybe, 30 minutes. At the end of the day, our belief is that vaccines are important. Not just for our kid, but for the community. We live in a place that has had both whooping cough and measles outbreaks in the last few years, and that is in part due to non-vaxing going on in our community. That influences us some, yes. And while there are maybe some less than ideal aspects to vaccinating, and vaccinating doesn’t guarantee that he won’t get those diseases, at the end of the day, we think it’s part of our responsibility as parents to offer this bit of protection to our kid.

Here’s the thing. Do I believe that vaccines are a money making branch of “BIG PHARMA”? Yes. Do I believe that often the medical establishment goes for a “more is better” approach without it being necessary? Yes. Do I think that the government, the medical community and the pharmaceutical companies are in collusion in many ways that affect our day to day health? Yes.

HOWEVER, I also know my history. I’ve read what the diseases we vax against did (and in some parts of the world, still do) to the world populations. I know how they annihilated communities. I know that it wasn’t luck, or healthy living, or parents knowing what’s best for their families that ended those tragedies. It was science. In the form of vaccines. I fall firmly in the camp of the “disease is worse than the treatment” folks. There may be risks with vaccines, but honestly I would NEVER forgive myself if Jackson got something devestating that was preventable through vaccinating and we hadn’t. May I never have to test this theory, but if something happens to him as a result of a vaccination, I believe that it will be because of a fluke—the one in however many chance that every drug, from his vaccines to my birth control, to yes, even the Tylenol I just took, has.

Now, I don’t think that parents who don’t vax their kids are bad parents. I think they love their kids and are doing what they think is right for them.  But honestly, I don’t understand it. Delayed vax, sure, I can understand that. And to an extent, selective vaxing I can sorta understand. But not vaxing at all? I just can’t wrap my head around it.

To be fair, I believe in the responsibility of those who can to provide immunity to those who can’t (go herd immunity). Maybe it’s not fair, but to live in society there are certain things that I think we owe our neighbors. We have rules for food safety, driving safety, why not health safety? Plus, I can’t get past the whole “what if my kid COULDN’T get these vaccines? What if he was relying on his neighbors to help keep him healthy?” And when I ask myself that, I can’t see NOT vaccinating, in case the kids Jackson comes in contact with later can’t.

So we vax, on the full, on-time schedule. Our kid is a champ about the shots. Hep B in the hospital: Jackson cried. But he cried 100 times harder when they had to take blood to test his bilirubin levels. His two month vaccines? He screamed bloody murder, nursed like a madman for maybe two minutes and then passed out. He never got a fever, he slept and nursed pretty much on schedule all day, and was fine the next day. He did cry a little more than normal during the day whenever the one leg that got two shots was bumped, but was fine by the end of the day. His 4 month vaxs? He cried during the shots, and was done about 2 minutes later. I didn’t even have to nurse him to calm him down–and he was his normal self the rest of the day. We watch him for reactions of course, but so far, so good.

At the end of the day, I wish this was one of the things that I could say–hey, just do whatever works for your family. But this one affects more than just your family. It’s not like circumcision, or breastfeeding, or co-sleeping. This one can have a footprint for the rest of the community. And that makes it hard for me to say, “Go on, do your thing.”

For other, more thoughtful discussions, check out these folks:

Our Lady of Perpetual Breadcrumbs: Vaccination Nation

amoment2think: Vaccinations

lilly: Vaccinations, why I do

Accidents will happen.


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Her February 21, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Right on! My inlaws are not vaccinating their kids, and it just blows my mind. I hope they’re not pissy about my refusal to allow their kids to be around my future kids until mine have completed their vaccine schedule.

Perpetua February 22, 2010 at 10:16 am

I think it’s so interesting how this conversation is going. On circumcision, there was a lot of “you do what you do, we do what we do.” But here, there’s a lot of votes for herd immunity, and being a responsible citizen, and not really getting what the “other side” is up to.

I wish we had someone from that other side, because so far we are all on the same page!

Also, love your kiddo’s name! 🙂

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks February 22, 2010 at 11:15 am

I’m not a parent, so surely there will be some who see my opinion as less worthy as that of a parent’s. But, to be honest, I just can’t comprehend not vaccinating. As you so astutely pointed out, it’s not just a personal decision. It’s a decision that affects communities at large. Why should a few families in the minority who choose not to vaccinate get to ride on the good coat tails of those who do? Surely, they might make different decisions if no one in their community got vaccinations and the chances their children get sick are increased 100-fold. What makes them better or more worthy of being allowed to not vaccinate given most of the community does?

And yes, they will argue there are risks of getting vaccinated. But you know what? There are risks with pregnancy. There are risks with breathing in air. There are risks with getting in a car. There are risks in using cell phones. There are risks in eating too much corn or the wrong processed version of it. The list of risks we expose ourselves to everyday is enormous. It is a part of life. It is a part of living in a community.

Ally February 22, 2010 at 2:03 pm

You are right that people do what they feel is best for their kids. I just don’t get not vaccinating, but at the same time people have been very scared by the media.

In my opinion vaccination is smart and the right thing to do for one’s child and society. Obviously others disagree with me!

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