I think doctors know their stuff. If I’m taking courses as an undergrad psychology student on how to interpret numbers in scientific studies, I’m positive that doctors get that training times a bunch. However, I’ve noticed that doctors have different approaches to different things. Some doctors will tell you that you absolutely must have all vaccines on schedule, and all the scientific evidence backs that up. Some doctors say that the common schedule has way too many vaccines given too close together. Some doctors question vaccination either entirely or when very young children are the ones being stuck with needles.
When Gwenna was born, I found a pediatrician I felt I could trust and left the needle stuff to him. I was too busy checking out articles and books on attachment parenting, baby wearing, breastfeeding, natural birth- all the new mom stuff. Gwenna is up-to-date on her vaccines. She had her vaccinations spaced out- one or so once a month. We never had any bad reactions except for her first MMR, and that was the first time I experienced the horrible feeling of not being able to soothe my baby. She got over it quickly.
I learned that it could have been much, much worse. Just checking out the HRSA site (Health Resources and Services Administration- a government program) will tell you that there is a National Vaccine Injury Compensation program. This program pays money to families of people who are injured by vaccines. There’s a table that explains which vaccines are covered and how an injury (including death) can be reported to the HRSA and compensation be given for it.
“Since the first Vaccine Injury Compensation claims were made in 1989, 2,975 compensation payments have been made, $2,317,734,924.26 disbursed to petitioners…” Also, “9,370 claims have been dismissed”- so only about a quarter of claimants were actually compensated. Even paying only a fraction of claimants results in a huge bill for this program, and that’s a heck of a lot of money to be tossing around for something (vaccines) that claims “no fault”.
That creeps me out.
Nevermind that claims have been made that vaccines have dangerous and untested chemicals in them, that live virus vaccines are so controversial, that some studies/surveys show unvaccinated children to have stronger immune systems than vaccinated children, that vaccines could raise the risk of SIDS, that vaccines don’t truly provide immunity, and that vaccines should not actually be credited with the demise of certain epidemics- it just freaks me out that our country spends that much money on paying people who get hurt or die as a result of routine health procedures.
The bit about Japan moving its minimum age of vaccination to two years for a while really caught my attention. Dr. Sears, if I remember correctly, encourages delaying vaccination for a while after birth- and he might even say until two years. Basically, the SIDS rate really shot down. When they moved the minimum age back to two months, SIDS shot back up. Producers of vaccinations have not attempted to spin a response, as far as I know, except to say that no link has been scientifically proven.
As scary as some of these accusations are, I don’t think vaccinations are wholly unnecessary evils. I think they can probably help, and I would prefer to be safe than sorry. That’s why I compare my girls’ chances of contracting (or carrying) exotic diseases like those the early vaccines claim to prevent versus their chances of being negatively affected by the vaccines themselves. Even barring outrageous circumstances, vaccines hurt. They make babies fussy and are sometimes painful for a while. For me, that poses the very basic question of why I’m hurting my baby when she has no capacity to understand the situation. I don’t have an answer.
There’s also breast milk to consider: doesn’t my baby get immunity through my milk? Breast milk contains live organisms, many of which build and strengthen a young child’s immune system. There are no solid scientific studies which support or refute the idea that a vaccinated mother can pass on her immunity from vaccinations to her baby, but the child is at least getting some immunity. If my baby and I were both exposed to a cold, for instance, I’d essentially be able to feed my baby antibodies that would work against the cold.
So that’s that. I’m scared of the toxic backlash of vaccines on a very fragile new person, and I think that my family is suited for delayed vaccinations. Both of my girls will be home for a couple more years. I’m going to breastfeed again (and maybe slip some breast milk into some food for Gwenna). I no longer work with the care of other children. We don’t travel. We have good nutrition.
That’s our call. When Gwenna goes to school, we’ll resume vaccinations (probably). If there’s an outbreak of some sort, we may consider a vaccination then. But this is what fits us for now. Am I a little worried about the possibility of someone in my family contracting a deadly virus? Of course- but I’m more worried about bad reactions to chemicals and live virus vaccines. I’m terrified of SIDS. I am inherently distrustful of pharmaceutical companies.
So this is mothering… we researched, we listened to both sides. And now we just keep our fingers crossed.