Sunday, November 9, 2008

A post about vaccines

This has been on my mind ever since my post about Finn's 4-month checkup the other day. I hate to think that anyone would assume that Michael and I came to the decision not to have Finn vaccinated without a lot of thought and gathering of information - without having "the whole story" so to speak.

So let me just assure everyone that the decision of whether to have Finn vacinated was not made lightly. All of our other kids are fully vaccinated and we have followed the usual vaccination schedule for them (although I tend to shy away from newer vaccines that do not have a proven track record, as well as flu shots which still contain mercury and which are developed each year speculatively attempting to anticipate which strains of flu will be present in the coming year). I have to admit, though, that with each child I've had, I've started questioning vaccines more and more. When Kevin was born almost 12 years ago, I just blindly went along with whatever the doctor ordered. That was NOT informed decision making - that was passivity, and I actually have guilt about that - about having made very uninformed decisions concerning my children in the past (and this covers other issues besides just vaccines).

When I was pregnant with Finn I had already reached a point of very much questioning vaccines - and this was long before we found out that he has DS. Michael and I wrestled with it, and by the time Finn was born, we still had not come to a firm decision.

When we found out that he has DS, we also learned that children/people with DS may have compromised immune systems. So there is a school of thought that believes it is even more important to have these children vaccinated. However, being that he is a boy, and that he has DS, Finn is also at a higher than average risk of developing autism, epilepsy, and a host of other disorders - some of which are theoretically connected to vaccines.

I understand that there are camps that claim - with research on their side - that any connection between vaccines and autism, etc. has been disproven. But there are camps on the other side - also with research to back up their position - who maintain that there IS in fact a connection. And the fact of the matter is that there is a federal vaccine-injury fund which pays out to people injured by certain vaccines. That speaks volumes to me. Perhaps it doesn't prove a connection, but it certainly proves the possibility of a connection.

So after much thought, reading, and discussion, we decided to forego vaccinating Finn, at least for the time being. I feel confident that the risk of him contracting some sickness he might have been vaccinated against is pretty miniscule; he's exclusively breastfed so he's getting all of my antibodies right now, his siblings are all vaccinated, and he's not in daycare and being exposed to other children. We simply came to the conclusion that the risk of a possible neurological injury from vaccines is not something we can live with at this time. We may revisit this later on when he's older - I just don't know at this point. But for now, he's vaccine-free and extremely healthy . . . while all my vaccinated kids are passing around colds like candy.

It's a very personal decision that every family has to make for their own children. Like home birth, there are people who believe it's crazy and dangerous, but these are not decisions we've made lightly. This is not an appropriate forum for a debate, and I am certainly not attempting to start a debate, nor am I trying to sway anyone to come to a decision that falls in line with ours. I realize that there are very strong feelings and opinions about vaccines, homebirth, circumcision, spanking - and the list goes on. We are very comfortable with the choices we've made, and I guess I just wanted to clarify that the decisions Michael and I have made about these things have been very informed decisions.


Carla said...

"And the fact of the matter is that there is a federal vaccine-injury fund which pays out to people injured by certain vaccines. That speaks volumes to me. Perhaps it doesn't prove a connection, but it certainly proves the possibility of a connection."

You hit the nail on the head, Lisa. With my first child, I followed blindly. I didn't research anything, assuming that if it was recommended, it surely was the best thing for my child. I like to say, I have evolved as a parent. My views about vaccinations, circumcision, CIO, homebirth have all changed. I like to think I am a better parent now, than I was then because I have taken the time to learn what is best for my children. And while I know there are those who don't agree with my beliefs, these are my children and I have to do right by them, regardless of what other people think.

I know that you and Micheal have taken the time to research and question what is best for each of your children. And I commend you for that. As a L&D nurse, I have met parents who have never heard of the Hep B vaccine, but get it anyway (w/o reading the info sheet we give them), who have no idea what a circumcision is, but choose to get it anyway. It is really sad they don't put more thought into things that could have long term effects on their kids.

The parents I have met who choose to forego interventions for their babies, are generally the ones who have thought long and hard about their choices.

Sheryl Lyon said...

My personal opinion is that people who choose to deviate from the norm are generally much better informed and educated about the risks and benefits whether you are talking about homebirth, circumcision or vaccinations.

Good for you!

Jeanette said...

Follow your heart. I did get my children vaccinated, however I was grilling my doctors about them. It was something I struggled with as well. If your heart is leading you to with-hold them, then that is exactly what you should do. I agree with Sheryl, you are much more informed than people who just do what is expected.

JaybirdNWA said...

My apologies for my strong comment on your last post concerning vaccines. I too believe that each family needs to follow what they feel is rigt for their children. Thanks for your openness. I enjoy reading your blog.

Annah said...

I have also decided to delay Tabitha's vaccines. I delayed the last 2 also. Each of the last 2 had an abbreviated schedule of shots. I have finally found a Dr that respects my choice and is waiting on my schedule. Heaven forbid anyone suggest I give my daughter the gardasil vac. I may be a little rabid about that one.
Finn is beautiful. Tabitha is one week younger and still hasn't rolled over yet. We have her check up next week. Blessings Annah

Anonymous said...

I think anyone that knows you knows you do not take things like this lightly. I struggle a lot with the shots and what Sofia really needs and I tend to ask a ton of questions when it comes up. I agree that you need to do what you think is best for your family and follow your gut! :)