Wednesday, July 16

Vaccines: Update on Us

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.


Meg said...

Hi Alicia (& Ryan),
I've been interested in this series on your blog, primarily because my gut-level instinct on these things is that vaccines have been a great boon to us, in preventing the spread of many deadly and dangerous diseases and generally improving our quality of life. After reading your posts, though, I do think this is an area I will read more about before we have kids--particularly since children are vaccinated so early!

On measles--a few years ago, there was an outbreak in Purdue's married/international student housing. A local young woman (unvaccinated) visited an orphanage in eastern Europe, contracted measles, and brought it back here. Several international student spouses/kids got sick, because while Purdue students need the vaccine, the families do not. I think I was very impressed by this by how quickly this infection spread, and how the number of unvaccinated people could even affect those who've had the vaccine but it may be less effective later in life.

I'm interested too in connections between vaccines and auto-immune disorders, so I'll have to check out the books you mention earlier in your series.

Thanks for the thought-provoking posts!

Anonymous said...

I would recommend finding a pediatrician who is a Christian and is not like "worldly" doctors who want to give every vaccine possible. Our ped is great, he's a believer and has only given our son the vaccines he thinks are really important. He's never had any side effects of the vaccines, I think partly because he's never received more than 1 or 2 at a time. While I understand some people's views on vaccines, I think there is a trust issue involved too. If we entrust our children's health and well-being to the Lord, he will take care of them. Now that may sound naive and maybe it is, but I also think that if His will for some autoimmune issue to occur in our children, whether or not they were vaccinated will not be the issue.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading your post and seeing the direction that you and Ryan are going. You also have the auto-immune disorder of Lupus on the pepple side of the family. I know of 4 relatives that have lupus.

Alaina said...

Very interesting! We had no choice with our boys (they were already vaccinated for some and we had to sign papers saying we would vaccinate - we didn't feel it was right to decline since we had no religious conviction). With the new baby, I'm hoping to have more control! But I have to say, God is faithful and we are so thankful for His sovereinty and protection thus far.

Catherine said...

I agree with what you guys decided with two exceptions. First, mumps can cause sterility in males AND females. It's a small risk, but I would never want to put my children in the position of infertility because of a choice I made about the shot. We will do the mumps shot later, but before puberty.

Second, rubella is not a serious disease EXCEPT when you get it and are pregnant. The baby in utero can't survive the mother's rubella infection. That is how the original culture was developed (a baby that was lost due to rubella - that was the 60s, before abortion was legal, so I assume the CDC got the original baby from a pregnancy rubella loss - you can read more about that in the Dr. Sears vaccine book) - moreover, the cultures now are all based on that original culture - they are not continually using more and more dead babies, if that makes sense. I was concerned about this originally, but now that I know it's not a continually updated thing (it's based on ONE baby, not many) and was not originally an avoidable abortion (apparently) I feel like the risks to my grandchildren outweigh those concerns. We'll do rubella later, and individually, but before puberty.

Thanks for your thoughtful posts on this topic!

Anne said...

Alicia-I enjoyed reading the updates on your vaccine research. Thanks for being so open. Nate & I think that a stong immune system is key to life long health. We want our kids to develop some formerly common childhood diseases to help their immune systems mature & become more effective in dealing with challenges from viruses & bacteria later in life. We feel vaccines don't give their immune systems that chance.

Joanne said...

The girls have their 2 month appointment this week and I already told the doctor that we will not be vaccinating them at this time. They did receive the Hep B shot and that was because there was some miscommunication between me and Tony. We think the chicken pox vaccine isnt necessary and we also wont do the Polio. I had a severe reaction to the polio vaccine that included swelling in my legs to the point that I couldnt walk.
We wont do the MMR series either, we want to have the Mumps and Rubella done individually. We are lucky in that our doctor is very understanding and is not rushing us to do anything at this time.

Anonymous said...

I think those who are on the fence about vaccinating their children should visit a third world country and see the kids dieing of the diseases that in our country can be prevented with vaccinations....and we need to remember that our generation has not gone through the time when these diseases took many kids lives...We do not have the outbreaks because of children through the years being vaccinated. The disease is hardly alive anymore due to vaccinations...We can be selfish and not protect our children and the children around them...Selfishness is a theme for our country.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to pass this on from what my own ped told me. Most kids grow out of the need for some vaccines like prevnar at age 1-2 years and HIB by 3-5 years.