Ryan and I haven't made all of our decisions regarding vaccines, but I thought I'd post where we are now on some of them. We have more reading and talking to do but have made a lot of headway. We are on the fence in some areas. If you've been doing research yourself, we'd be interested in comments on our uncertainties or other comments in general.
We will do a delayed vaccination schedule. None will be given at birth or two months, at the very least. We are leaning towards giving our kids select vaccines at 2 years. When they do get vaccines, we will take measures the day before, day of and day after with their food and vitamins to prepare them. If there is any hint of sickness beforehand or if they were recently sick, they will absolutely be postponed a couple of weeks. We will be watchful for reactions to individual vaccines and because they'll be separate, we'll know to which shot the reaction is related. I will not get a flu shot ever again, and not when pregnant. If for some reason our kids go to daycare and are formula fed, we will re-think our positions. That is not our intention, but the future is always uncertain.
We will not give hepatitis B (if you're thinking about that one, you need to decide before your baby crowns, since the first dose is given a day or so after birth).
We were pretty convinced about the chicken pox vaccine because it's worse to get it as an adult, and you have lifetime immunity from getting it as a child. Also, I read from the CDC itself that the reason for the chicken pox vaccine is they wanted to reduce the number of moms taking time off work to care for their spotty and itchy kids. Seriously. To me, that is a ridiculous reason for the shot. However, a friend pointed out that not many kids get it now so it's hard to have "pox parties" for your kids to get it and get over it (and have greater immunity than from a shot). That's a tough one because we wouldn't want our kids to get it as adults if it's not around as a child for them to contract. Ryan has never had chicken pox and could possibly have natural immunity. He never caught it as a kid even though he went to "pox parties" too. I actually read this week that kids can get chicken pox but not show symptoms and gain immunity. I came down with it right before I was supposed to go to a school roller skating party and had to stay home. :: sniff, sniff :: We lean towards declining the chicken pox vaccine in the chance that our kids could get it naturally and have lifetime immunity compared to the artificial immunity from the shot, which can wear off. The unknown long-term affects of "messing" with your immune system are a concern for any of the vaccines.
We will likely not give the measles vaccine because of the seeming high occurrence of the diseases from the vaccine itself and potential severe, and sometimes chronic, side effects of this particular vaccine. We will become familiar with the symptoms and signs and have it treated it if our kids get it.
As for tetanus, we are comfortable with our kids getting the shot if needed, when they are older. Tetanus is rare, and they are not at risk as babies. If they enter a situation we know about in advance (like if they work on a farm or near filth for whatever reason), they will get the shot. If they are injured and at risk, we'll talk to the doctor about getting the tetanus immune globulin, which is not a vaccine, and ask if he recommends it. The vaccine itself is not effective after the fact but many ERs push the vaccine anyway. If they will be traveling to a country where the risk is greater, they will get it. We are concerned, however, that all single tetanus shots still have mercury. The only way to get mercury-free tetanus is in the combo DTaP and DT. As for the D, diphtheria, there has been 1 case in the last five years, and it was in 2003. We do not believe the vaccine is necessary today. We'll look at the stats again in the future when we have kids to see if this changes. We may do DT in an older child to avoid mercury in the single Tetanus.
There have been no polio cases (both paralytic and non paralytic) in the last several years, and there is question as to the safety of this vaccine. Also, the inactivated vaccine (IPV) "cannot prevent the spread of wild polio virus" and "it induces only very low levels of immunity to polivirus locally, inside the gut" (source). We are leaning towards not giving this one but will do more reading and research.
We will definitely not have our kid get the combination vaccine MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and since we're already taking out measles, we may only do mumps. I read that the chance of male sterility from mumps is extremely rare. The Rubella vaccine is cultured in aborted fetal tissue which is an issue for Ryan and me. Rubella itself also doesn't appear to be a concern today.
The least concerning shot to us regarding safety is Hib. We may do this after we read further. It seems that the majority of infections today are from a strain not addressed in the shot, so our question is, is this vaccine really necessary or effective?
If you've been following my posts, you may somewhat know that the concerns and questions we have are multi-faceted. The 1) frequency of shots, 2) the age of the child, 3) the ingredients, 4) the combinations, 5) the risk of the actual diseases today, 6) the lack of long-term testing (ie more than a few days) before going to market, 7) the application of a risk in a small group to the whole population not necessarily at risk (ie hep B), 8) the effectiveness of the vaccine itself and 9) the history of deceit negligence from those in charge. We can't just brush all that under the rug. In addition to that, as brought out by Dr. Cave in her book, those who have family history of auto-immune disorders should take care to consider the current vaccine schedules. There is diabetes, asthma, allergies, and fibromyalgia in my family. I have allergies and asthma. We'd like our kids to not have those things, and we believe adhering to the CDC schedule as it is today would compromise our kids' immune systems and cause them to be more prone to develop any of the above conditions. We believe the risk of the diseases that we wouldn't vaccinate against is not as great as potential problems from the shots themselves.
Another factor is that for any of the vaccinated diseases, they are preventable, and our kid's doctors will know how to treat them. Also, Ryan and I can learn the symptoms of the non-vax diseases to identify if our kids get them. However, if our kids have a reaction to a vaccine, it is more likely that we will not be helped by our doctor to treat the reaction and address it like we would for the actual diseases or infections. The overwhelming response to vaccine reactions today seems to be that it's normal and not related to the shots. End of story. We would rather take our chances with some preventable diseases (note: some, not all), knowing they will be addressed immediately and knowledgeably. Many of the diseases have a quick recovery and are not life-threatening or even requiring a hospital stay.
Your comments are welcome.