Sunday, April 12, 2009


Happy Easter, everyone!

Nothing much to say today, but I wanted to point out this post by Dooce about vaccinations. I was very, very interested to read this, and would love to hear what my Circle of Moms has to say about this topic. I'll save my own opinion for a follow-up post.


Amberism said...

well, I'm pro-vaccinations for my own kids (exception being chicken pox and HPV*) generally speaking, for the reasons that Dooce stated. Neither allergies nor autism is a concern in my family or in Steve's family so vaccinating my own kids isn't a terrifying venture. For my Mom's ex-husband's family I may not have vaccinated because autism seems to be a possibility (and there seems to be a combination of genetics and the vaccination at play).

*My problem with HPV and chicken pox is that I'm not sure there has been adequate study yet. My kids ARE vaccinated for chicken pox, but I debated about it for some time. I did vaccinate them because I felt I had a social responsibility to those parents who couldn't receive the vaccination but their kids could die if they got chicken pox.

The HPV vaccination seems like a money-making venture at the moment...

so generally, I'm ok with vaccinating my own kids, mostly because I'm well-traveled, and hope to continue to be well-traveled as time/money allows. And like everything parenting-related, it's not something I judge another Mom for. We have our reasons.

yagowe said...

I completely agree with what is said in the linked post, especially this:
If you've decided that the risks are too great to vaccinate your child then you are counting on the rest of us who are willing to take those risks to decrease the chances that your child will be exposed to these diseases. You are counting on us.

yagowe said...

See also this post, specifically about resistance to the HPV vaccine.

rheadeja said...

My standard approach to health care stuff is to advocate for APPROPRIATE use of things - a blanket statement in either direction is, in my opinion, completely bothers me when people make broad sweeping statements because it doesn't leave any room for the individual (greater good folks will probably say that doesn't matter).

Do I think vaccines are dangerous? Yep

Did I get some before going to Africa? Yep, because in that case I felt the benefits outweighed the risks of being exposed to things I just wasn't used to

Will I vaccinate my kids?
Probably not unless I'm taking them to Africa

I think in this whole debate, people have also forgotten that our overall health has improved since we started vaccinating - we have better water, better nutrition (well, some people do anyway)....even if we do get some of these illnesses, I would argue we are better equipped to deal with them now than we were 60 years ago.

*sigh* There's no easy answer....

My small opinion on specific vaxes? HPV has minimal testing and excellent marketing - it was never tested on anyone younger than 14 but is now being marketed to 9 year olds....I wouldn't put it in my daughter (or son) for all the money in the world....

Tetanus is pretty useful since you can die from it pretty quickly - though it has been 19 years since I have had a tetanus shot - you can be sure that if I step on a rusty nail, I'll go get the shot....

See? It's all about risks and benefits people - and 9 times out of 10 I don't feel the benefits of vaxxing outweigh the risks....

This site is to raise awareness of adverse vaccine reactions (which pharmaceutical companies will deny ever happen). Fact is, anything you put in your (child's) body can be dangerous....

Their newborn son died from a reaction to the hep B vaccine and yet they are not anti-vax, just pro-informed choice re: vaxxing

Under the heading "safer vaccines" there is a really good movie about some of these issues - it's long though, so make some popcorn and enjoy.

Jen said...

It really is such a point of debate in the parenting circle. I researched a LOT before choosing to vaccinate Anderson. We are choosing to vaccinate for everything except chickenpox*. If we ever have a daughter we probably will not choose to do HPV either. That whole campaign makes me roll my eyes. I looked at the rationale for each vaccination, side effect profile etc. I read all sides of the spectrum too - very anti-vacc (what I would call alarmist) literature, middle ground pro-choice literature, and very pro-vacc literature to see what each had to say. (Thank goodness for our local library).

Being an RN by background we are all taught that vaccinations are amazing, wonderful and absolutely essential. It is very blanket statement-ish in nursing school, the only exceptions being taught are allergies and religious reasons.

Here is my take as a parent:

We are able to live free from worry about life-threatening illnesses today because of the work vaccines have done in North America.

Some of these vaccines have been around for years. I had them. I am ok. Did I take the decision to vaccinate our son lightly? Not at all. Are there folks out there who've attempted to make me feel like I've done my son an injustice? Absolutely.

Each vaccine has it's pro's, con's, risks and benefits. Each family has the right to choose to vaccinate or not vaccinate their child(ren).

I felt a social responsibility to vaccinate Anderson and we will with our subsequent children as well. Although we don't see these diseases now, they can re-emerge when the population becomes lax about vaccinating. We've already seen this with Polio. Parents who choose not to vaccinate are in a lot of ways relying on those of us who choose to take the small risks associated with vaccinating.

Yes, we do have better health care available if we were to get sick with one of these diseases. My sense is that even with the best health care available, some of these illnesses are just too difficult to overcome and dealing with that overwhelming sickness is far worse than the "what if's" that come with a vax.

Having said that, I think some people may put a lot of trust in vaccines where they shouldn't. For example, Prevnar is given to babies with their infant series of shots for pneumonia prevention. There are ballpark 100 (?) strains of pneumonia out there. The vaccines cover only 7 of them. It's some protection but it's no fail safe to ensure your kids aren't going to get sick. That's what kids do. They have runny noses. They get fevers. It's good for them to build their immunity naturally as well.

Do I personally believe that vaccinations cause or increase the risk autism and other disorders? No. My understanding from the literature is that this debate has been settled, while rumours and fears still fly about for years later.

Do I believe that vaccinations are dangerous? I would like to see them reduce or eliminate the amount of adjuvant aluminum in them. Research on this is not at all where it should be, and I think it would be prudent to avoid putting heavy metal into something that will be given to little children. We've already seen them pull mercury out of everything except the flu shot**. Aside from that, the biological mechanism of a vaccination is really quite simple and nothing that I would be concerned about.

Do I believe that vaccines are the be all and end all answer for disease prevention and health promotion? Absolutely not. Our government needs to put more focus and more dollars into educating people about natural ways of infection control and just plain healthy living.

I think that in Canada we have a very reasonable vaccination schedule for the most part. (No Hep B in infancy, no Rotavirus - which has had an alarming rate of bowel intussusception in infants until they changed the vax slightly) I would change it a little bit. I would like to see them make it easier for families to choose a custom vaccination schedule. I tried to come up with one myself (even called the pharmaceutical companies who make the vaccines) and with what is NOT available in Canada, it's next to impossible to choose exactly what you'd like to do. The States have far more options due to the availability of split vaccines. (Although some you simply can't split, because that's just the way they work).

*We are choosing against the chickenpox vaccine simply because we don't feel the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk of the chickenpox. Lifelong immunity from the naturally occurring varicella virus seems a lot more appealing to us than temporary immunity from a vax. I'm interested to see how that will go over with our GP, who is very pro-vacc.

**I used to get the flu vaccine, but have not for the past 2 years. I'm no longer convinced that it's a good choice for us. The accuracy of the strains included in the vacc is hit and miss, and finding a vacc sans mercury is just not worth the effort for me. Has anyone ever questioned the Canadian government about why they encourage all pregnant women to get the Flu Shot (that contains mercury/Thimerosal) yet we're sternly warned not to eat tuna because of it's mercury content???

Surprised Suburban Wife said...

I'm late to this, but here's my two cents. We vaccinated Megan against everything recommended except Hep B. We researched, and ultimately the idea of societal responsibility/guilt won out. I just couldn't bear the thought that my child could, say, infect a pregnant woman with Measles. Ditto for infecting some child who for very legimitate reasons was physically incapable of tolerating a vaccine. Couldn't have those kinds of scenarios on my conscience. We will be skipping HPV, and may still do Hep B down the road, but since it used to be done in grade 6, we figure we have time. Chicken Pox was one we were sure we were going to skip, same reasons as Jen, and I am still questioning our decision to immunize for that. All we can do is decide based on our information and circumstances at the time. Let us know what you decide if you feel comfortable!


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