Sunday, March 28, 2010

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate

That is not the question--not for me anyways. I believe that vaccinating kids protects them and others from potentially harmful diseases and has also been the root cause of the eradication of some diseases in recent history. That said, I'm concerned about the Centers for Disease Control's immunization schedule because it loads kids up with these vaccines as early as birth and with as many as six viruses at a time.

To learn more, I read Dr. Robert Sears' The Vaccine Book, which I believe takes an unbiased, comprehensive and in-depth look at vaccines. Some things I learned:
  • Mercury (aka thimerosal) has been taken out of virtually all vaccines, as mandated by the government in the late '90s. Some argue that mercury is one cause of autism, though no studies have proven this.
  • Several of the diseases are most dangerous in the first year of life, so it's important to get certain vaccines during infancy.
  • Some shots contain aluminum and with combination shots, babies are exposed to as much as 1200 micrograms at one time, which far exceeds the FDA's safety limit.
  • Vaccines do not undergo extensive testing before being released, so problems are often not found until after the fact. In the past 20 years, three vaccines have been taken off the market due to a high rate of severe side effects.
  • Some vaccines are currently made with controversial ingredients, including toxins and carcinogens, though they are present in such tiny amounts that it is believed our bodies can process and eliminate them without harm.
  • Based on some rough statistics, there is about a 1 in 2,600 chance during the 12-year vaccination schedule that a child will suffer a serious vaccine reation; however, the risk of a child having a severe case of a vaccine-preventable disease each year is 1 in 600. This indicates it is safer to vaccinate than to not vaccinate.
Dr. Sears provides an alternative vaccination schedule that covers all the shots, but spreads them out over more visits so that a child receives a maximum of only two shots (one of which might contain aluminum) per visit. Theoretically, this minimizes the potential risks of vaccines.

The alternative schedule makes sense to me, yet I'm hesitant to use it. Not because it doubles the visits to the pediatrician, but because I wonder if I'm being too alarmist. I already know my pediatrician (and the vast majority of pediatricians out there) firmly supports the CDC schedule, which has never been proven to be unsafe. She'll work with me if I feel strongly about using an alternative schedule, but will do so reluctantly. I would hate to be a nuisance...

I've already skipped out on the Hep B shot when Olive was born (really? a shot to prevent a sexually transmitted disease at birth?) to buy some more time to learn more about vaccinations. Now I've done some research and I'm still on the fence. The problem is, Olive's two-month appointment (when her first round of shots is scheduled to take place) is tomorrow.

I know there are strong feelings about this issue and I don't mean to spark any type of debate. I just wish I had more answers.


MamaQ said...

nice research, m. thanks for sharing.
it seems to me that you have a few reservations about the cdc schedule, so why don't you go with the alternative? it may give you more peace of mind, even if you feel like a nuisance to the doc. i think that the mentality in the usa is to follow medical advice unless proven dangerous. it makes far more sense to me, however, to first prove a method or medicine(or vaccine) is safe before promoting it hardcore. but you know i'm a bit more... alternative in my opinions about western medicine.

Emily W said...

That is some good info. I did some research with Bay and ended up just going along with the schedule...just bc it was easier and I didn't have strong reservations about vaccines...but something to think about. I think it is important not to just "trust" your pediatrician and the doctors and know about it I think that is great you are doing that. And can I just say Olive is adorable! :)

MamaM said...

The problem with the alternative schedule is that some doctors may not have the vaccinations in independent doses because they often buy the combination shots to reduce the number of shots given. So it's also a question of availability. If they have some shots combo and some shots single, it complicates the alternative schedule.