Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The great vaccination debate of 2009

Yesterday was Trav's 3 month doctor's appointment. And the one where I finally came face to face with the dreaded vaccination question.

With Kai, I vaccinated no questions asked. That's what you do, right? You vaccinate your kids. I honestly didn't even know I had a choice.

With Ivy, I vaccinated some. But she had a terrible reaction to one of her vaccinations and by then I had learned that **gasp** some people don't vaccinate their kids. And then I learned why.

And for the last 2 years I have wavered between vaccinating, selectively vaccinating and not vaccinating at all. And by "wavered" I mean I stopped vaccinating because I couldn't decide whether or not to vaccinate and so I went into analysis paralysis. But, thankfully, my girls have been very healthy and even though they were both in preschool we never had any problems whatsoever.

Then when I knew Trav was coming I had to revisit this whole issue. And that meant getting a new doctor because our doctor told us that if we decided not to vaccinate fully along the schedule the CDC published then we should just move along to some other practice. Which, of course, we did. Because, whether we decided to or not I didn't want a doctor who would take away my ability to make decisions about these things.

But, the question still remained, should we vaccinate or not? There are so many reasons to vaccinate. And so many reasons not to. I read Dr. Sears' The Vaccine Book about 3 times. And Googled until I was fully freaked out by the arguments on both sides of the issue.

We declined the Hep B shots in the hospital. And didn't have to face the question again until yesterday's visit. But, I'd done my research and so I had it all figured out, right? Right. Two months ago I had decided not to vaccinate. Then a month ago I decided to do DTaP because of our potential travel to Hawaii this next year. Then the night before our appointment I read way too much on DTaP and decided not to vaccinate at all until he was 6 months old. But, at the doctor's appointment my ped talked to me about the pros and cons. She is really truly an amazing pediatrician who is 100% fine with no vaccinations. But, she was concerned about our travel with Trav, too. Her honest recommendation was that I do the DTaP since Pertussis and Diptheria are potential threats when traveling to the South Pacific. But she respected my ability to make the decision enough not pressure me. And so I made the best decision I knew how. I got the DTaP.

But not before I sat quietly in the exam room and prayed over Trav that he wouldn't have a bad reaction. That the scary side effects would not be an issue for him. And that I was making the best decision possible for him.

Of course, all the way home I worried. And panicked. And, above all else, prayed.

Some of you may think I've made the wrong decision for vaccinating at all. Some of you may think I've made the wrong decision for not vaccinating all the way. And some of you may be right where I am still struggling to decide just what is best for your kids.

Either way, it was one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make as a mom. The problem is, whether you choose to vaccinate or not you never really know whether you've made the right choice until something bad happens. And I don't like those kinds of decisions.

But, I'm a mom. And I suppose that is why we get paid the big bucks, right? Yeah, I thought so.

Where do you weigh in on the vaccination debate?


Katie said...

It freaks me out too, and yet I've been bullied by a Doc into tearful consent for a flu vac. (switched docs since then)I've just decided that yes, I am going to vaccinate, but only one needle per visit, so it's going to take us a lot longer than the CDC recommends. My doc made me sign a waiver stating that I was mapping out alternative vaccination schedule.

Nancy said...

I don't have kids yet, but I know it must be a tough decision.

Sarah Lyn said...

I'm proud of you for making the best decisions for your family, not what others tell you are the best decisions. My mom had a very hard time 28 years ago telling her doctor she wouldn't be vaccinating my sister... my sis and I were not vaccinated and we're both healthy as can be. You're doing a good job, Jenna!

Tiffany @ Lattes And Life said...

**hugs** I'm right where you are. With my oldest, she was fully vaxxed, per the schedule, no questions asked. With my second I declined the HepB in the hospital, but then went right on schedule until he was due for Varicella and HepA. Then I started researching and declined both of those. Now with number three, I'm not sure what to do. The Vaccine Book should be arriving any day, and I have a month to make a decision about what I'll tell the doctor. They've never threatened to stop seeing us as patients (the AAP actually released a statement encouraging Drs to work with parents about alternative vax schedules, and not to dismiss them from their practice. I'd print that out and mail it to the jerky Dr. you saw before). Our current pediatrician I don't like. But we only have about three or four to choose from in our area. And none of them are any good. I have to sign a form each time I take my son in, acknowledging I refuse those two vaxes and that HE COULD DIE. So I know I'll have to deal with that junk if I choose not to vax, or delay. But seriously....my infant isn't having sex or sharing needles, and isn't exposed to anyone else's bodily fluids. So I think I can safely postpone the HepB until much later, without making a federal case about it. Ugh. I hate this.

kellymac said...

It's a really hard area to navigate. Our doc lets us spread them out as long as he gets them all - I need to start re-reading what Sears says about the vaccines he's due for in the next year.

dewde said...

Here is my philosophy on the topic: I treat my kids like Pediatricians treat their kids.

Most pediatricians vaccinate their own kids because it is the best thing to do. Therefore, I feel perfectly fine doing the same with mine.


Anonymous said...

J -
You're an exceptionally caring + educated mom.
Praying for peace for you + good health for T.


Beth@Pages of Our Life said...

I think there would probably be more moms questioning vac's if they knew the facts.

I didn't know to be concerned when my guys were young.

I say kudos to you for looking at both sides. I think decisions like that are the hardest to make especially when it involves the life of someone we love.


PS Can't wait to hang out at the photowalk with you and Dawn. Are you still coming??

Blake said...

Hey Jenna,
The whole reasoning behind vaccination is based on an idea called "herd immunity". Because most of these infections can be spread from person to person, the idea is that by vaccinating people, it prevents the disease from getting a hold into the population and serving as a source for more people to be infected. It's still working because most people are immunized, but when enough people stop vaccinating, these diseases will be a problem again. Like Sarah said, her sister wasn't vaccinated and turned out healthy. That's because everyone else vaccinated. If they didn't, it would be like it was in the 1800s where children died from measles and pertussis.
Personally, I look at it from the other perspective. Everyone I know WAS vaccinated, and they turned out healthy.

I have to say one more thing about the doctor who discharged you from his practice, just to clarify his position... Patients have complete autonomy over their health decisions, but it is the physician's responsibility to the patient, *and the community*, to ensure their health to the best of his ability. When people refuse to follow their advice, it can make the physician liable in a lawsuit. So, often times, the doc can ask the patient to find a new physician.

I'll put it a different way... I do not want to ever perform an abortion. Some day, I will have a patient come to me and request that I abort their child. Abortion is legal, so there is no law protecting me. The patient can think it is their right, and by the current laws, they are right in that. So, pretend that you are pro-choice for a second (or if you are, continue being pro-choice for a moment), and you have a doctor who refuses to do something with which he is morally uncomfortable. He has no choice but to discharge the patient, and ask them to find another doctor.

Now, I am not at all saying that not vaccinating is like aborting a child. But, your old physician clearly had a moral, medical, and scientific problem with not vaccinating your children. He is in the same impossible position as me if someone wanted an abortion.
So all I ask is that you understand the impossible position of physicians who are charged to take care of their patients, and their communities, while answering to the federal, state, and professional authorities.

JULZ said...
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