Ok, so this one is a HOT topic, as in HHHHHOTTTTTT. So, let's try to remember our nice words and be nonjudgmental. This is not a debate, folks! We're simply sharing what we do and why. That's all. Not trying to convince anyone what is right, wrong, ect.
So...here's OUR story.
First, with Camden (born almost ten years ago), I approached vaccinations the way I did most other things with him....I didn't question anything and just went with what seemed to be the norm. I didn't even realize there were options! But this time around, I knew better than that. I wanted to be informed and make decisions as an educated Mama. I went into the research just wanting knowledge - not planning on going one route or the other. No agenda other than learning. And let me tell you, it is hard finding info on this topic that is NOT biased!
The best resource we found was Dr. Robert Sears' book - The Vaccine Book. The book has a chapter on each vaccine and disease. The chapters are divided up into sections explaining things such as: how common/rare the disease is, how serious it is, how each vaccine is made and what the ingredients are (esp the controversial ingredients), the possible side effects and the likelihood of them, the different brands/types of vaccines (and why they are different than the others). There is also info about traveling concerns, vaccine research and stats, delaying or declining vaccines, etc, etc. It's got a lot of info - but it's a very easy read. And you will come away knowing more than you expected.
After reading all about the different vaccines and thinking a lot about everything...Ryan and I decided to do an alternate vaccine schedule. That means that Aiden will be getting the vaccines, but he will have them more spread out, getting only two at a time. He will not get the combo shots. Some combo shots combine three or so shots in one, which for some is a plus...less injections at once. For us, it is not a plus because there are more controversial ingredients, such as aluminum, in some of these shots. Also, the purpose in doing only two shots at a time is the child is only getting TWO SHOTS AT A TIME, which is not happening with the combo shots - he would get more than two.
Why do we want only two at a time? Well, we think it is better for his immune system to get fewer than more at a time. With the regular schedule, babies will get up to SIX vaccines at a time at some visits. That's just too much, in our opinion. We would rather introduce a smaller amount into his immune system at a time because we feel that is what is best for his body. I keep saying "we" because Ryan and I are in complete agreement with this. None of this was the decision of just one of us with the other going along with it or just not arguing against it. Complete agreement. We did the research together and made the decisions together. And we believe that too many shots at once are not good for the immune system. Now, do we believe that all those shots put into a baby's immune system can cause autism? (I know you're wondering!) Well, not necessarily yes or no. I actually am not taking a stand on that issue. But I will say that I believe that harming the immune system with certain children could lead to some problems, and I believe that too many shots at one time can harm the immune system. I'll leave it at that. Ryan is also not really sure where he stands on the whole autism and vaccinations, mostly because he hasn't had the time to do much research on the issue.
When I compare the shot schedule today with what Camden got less than ten years ago, there are so many more shots now! It's amazing how many more there are all the time. I can't remember at this time what the numbers are, but I did compare when we were looking at this, and I remember being very surprised at the difference. And comparing it to when I was a child...huge difference. From 1991-2001, the number of shots that children received DOUBLED. While I do believe that good can come of vaccinating children, especially when looking at the "big picture" (not just the one child but the nation, etc.), I question some of the other factors going into vaccinating.
One other problem I have is vaccine research. There is a minimal amount. What? Well, when you think about it, it's very difficult to do vaccine research on each vaccine. When new vaccines come out, they are given along with other vaccines, so if there is a new side effect, it's assumed it is from the new vaccine. You can't ethically give just the new vaccine to a child while not allowing the other vaccines that we are told are very important, now can you? So, you can't test vaccines in isolation. When other new medications are created, they go through years of rigorous testing, trials, evaluations, etc. When it has been declared safe, it is then given to the general public. This doesn't occur with vaccines. No blood work to check for toxicity. No long-term safety research. Any research is very minimal and very flawed (using only parent questionnaires, animal studies, comparing different countries, etc.). We don't even know what some of the possible long-term side effects from many vaccines are, though it is questioned that diabetes, eczema, arthritis, and other chronic diseases could be caused by them.
Now, I am not saying that we shouldn't vaccinate because of these issues. But as someone who wants to know the research behind these types of things, things I am doing to my children, to myself, this isn't the best news. It's bad news, actually. It's something I am interested in...and something I definitely keep in my mind when thinking about the pros versus the cons of vaccinating.
If you take the time to read about the diseases that vaccinations are for, you will also realize that some of the diseases are not as relevant today. They do not occur often (maybe partially due to vaccinations...) and are not that serious when they do occur. I thought one vaccine in particular was interesting...Rubella. Rubella is dangerous for pregnant women because the fetus can be infected and have birth defects due to that. It is very, very mild for children and often isn't even noticed. Children are vaccinated, however, so that they will not infect teachers and mothers that are pregnant. Rubella is now very rare in the US. I'm not saying we should stop vaccinating - I'm saying that I like to know WHY we are vaccinating and if the reasons pertain to us. (Some of you will immediately say YES because we need to think of more than just our immediate family. I'm not arguing one way or another.)
And then there are the ones that we vaccinate for early on, though they aren't likely to occur until later, often requiring a titer later on to ensure the vaccination will be more effective. (Did you know that the vaccines only last so long? Many require more shots later on, but some people aren't aware of this - and therefore aren't vaccinated when they most need it.) One example of this is the Hep B, which is given at birth, though it's not needed then unless one of the parents has Hep B. Otherwise, you can wait until much later to give this vaccine. It's a sexually transmitted disease. I like how Dr. Sears puts it. "Besides being transmitted through unprotected sex, hep B can also be passed on by the sharing of IV drug needles, the use of improperly sterilized tattoo needles, or an accidental stick with an infected needle. So any baby who participates in one of the above-mentioned risky activities could catch hepatitis B." But it can also be acquired from blood transfusions, though rarely.
These are some issues we have with vaccines, when they are routinely given, etc, etc. This is not a list of ALL the issues we have. But I don't need to go on and on and on. This is a very complicated topic, and one could really go on all day about it. And longer. We're not going to do that here. I do think that vaccines have done a lot of good for populations. At the same time, they can be risky for individuals.
If you're interested in what our schedule is, here it is....
Aiden's Vaccination Schedule
2 months DTaP Rotavirus
3 months* Pc HIB (Get the Act HIB brand - no aluminum)
4 months DTaP Rotavirus
5 months* Pc HIB
6 months DTaP Rotavirus
7 months* Pc HIB
9 months Polio
12 months MMR Polio (Do Polio at either 10/11 months or 13/14 months)
15 months Pc HIB
Flu (2 doses, between 6-12 months in flu season, mercury free shot - if you ask, it seems more offices are using the mercury free shots)
18 months DTaP Chickenpox
2 years Polio
2 years, 4 months?* Flu (mercury free)
2 years, 6 months* Hep B Hep A
3 years Hep B
3 years, 6 months Hep B Hep A
4 years DTaP Polio
5 years MMR
6 years Chickenpox
12 years Tdap
13 years Meningococcal
* can be "shot only" visits with nurse
Notice we have only two shots at a time. We are fortunate to have doctors that support our choice with our vaccine schedule. Fully support. When we go for our visits, the nurse always knows what shots Aiden is getting based on HIS schedule. (One nurse tried to tell us we had "missed" shots, but she was not our usual nurse and realized what was going on once I explained it.) Another time, when calling to make sure we got the Hib brand that doesn't have aluminum, the nurse wasn't sure what to tell me, and a doctor told her "find out whatever she wants to know!" I was very pleased to have that kind of support from this office. (Incidentally, after reading the ingredients, the nurse said, "Now I don't want to give these shots!" She clearly had no idea what was in them.) I do have to go into the office more often for the shot visits, but they do not cost us extra. They are "nurse visits" - I call the day ahead to make sure they have the shots in and then show up for the nurse to give the shot. No cost, no appointment, not much of a wait.
There was a shortage of the MMR shot divided up into the three separate parts, but I've read that it is available again. We cannot get them divided at our dr office but can go elsewhere for it. We might do the MMR together and get that shot only during that visit.
There IS a shortage of Hib going on. Aiden missed his at the seven month visit. But whenever it becomes available again, we can get it then. No biggie. Most of the shots aren't necessary at the exact month they are scheduled. Going off track is not a big deal.
We may change our schedule as time goes on, as we learn more, etc. This is not set in stone. As of now, we're following Dr. Sears' alternate schedule with a little tweaking based on when Aiden was born (for the flu shot) and some other factors, which ensures Aiden will have the shots that schools require by the time he starts. Anyone can change their vax schedule if they decide, which also means that if you are going by the regular schedule and wish you had done the alternate schedule - you can change that! It's really not a big deal.
In case you don't know what it is and are curious, here is the regular vax schedule:
American Academy of Pediatrics 2007 Recommended Vaccine Schedule
Birth Hep B
1 month Hep B
2 months HIB Pc DTaP Rotavirus Polio
4 months HIB Pc DTaP Rotavirus Polio
6 months HIB Pc DTaP Rotavirus Hep B Flu
1 year MMR Chickenpox Hep A
15 months HIB Pc
18 months DTaP Polio Hep A Flu
2 years Flu
3 years Flu
4 years Flu
5 years DTaP Polio MMR Chickenpox
11 years HPV (3 doses, girls only)
12 years Tdap Meningococcal
Yes, it looks a lot simpler than Aiden's and requires fewer visits - but he's not getting 5-6 at a time, either, which is what we prefer. Did you know the reason they lump so many shots into as few visits as possible?? It's because they want to ensure people come in for them. Some people will not come in for frequent visits because they may not be able to afford the copays for so many dr visits. Fewer visits = less $$ for the client to pay = the client is more likely to show up = the child is more likely to be vaccinated. You can spread the shots out if you want. What harm could that cause? That's our view. We are causing Aiden no more harm in spreading out the shots, but we may be helping him.
Ok...is that enough on my end?? I really could go on. But do you really want me to?? ;) I want to hear from all of you - what you are doing, will do, what you think about things, why, etc. Remember that this isn't a debate. We are not here to judge. Just SHARE. I will say this...one thing that really bothers me is when someone who has NOT done the research judges others that use some alternate/selective schedule. If you do not know much about it, do you really have the right to judge someone who does and makes an educated decision? And on that note, I will also comment that doctors do not necessarily know all of the research behind vaccinations. My doctor knew some because she had a child shortly before Aiden was born, and she did research as a parent, but it seems that many doctors are not too knowledgable when it comes to this topic, not in the way we might want them to be, at least. Just a thought.
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