Thursday, November 3, 2011

Just a little poke...

I have been meaning to write about the vaccine dilemma I've been having this time around. When Isaac was born I questioned the routine immunizations. I read a lot and though a lot. The best book I came across was The Vaccine Book by Dr. Bob Sears. It was straightforward and provided the pros and cons of each disease and it's corresponding vaccine. In the end, I decided to do the 2, 4, and 6 months vaccinations as per the recommended schedule. I delayed the MMR and chickenpox...and in fact, Isaac has still not received those vaccines and I don't plan on him to get them for a long time yet. Here in Canada the vaccine schedule contains way less vaccines than in the U.S.A. So he only received 2 vaccines at each appointment. The DTaP is combined with HIB and Polio in a vaccine called Pentacel. The other one is the Pc vaccine, called Prevnar. Both of these contain aluminum (which is what I was concerned about), but for some reason I felt OK about it with Isaac and he got all his vaccines up until 6 months. Thankfully, he did not appear to have any reactions or long-term effects.

And I say appear on purpose because a lot of the reading I have done and the information I have gathered points to the possibility that perhaps we don't have the whole picture when it comes to vaccines (or at least some vaccines). The truth is that children do sometimes get reactions. Some are considered mild, as in a rash, redness at the injection site or perhaps are a bit cranky or irritable. Other reactions are more concerning, such as lethargy and possible neurological effects. This is were it starts to bother me. More concerning is the fact that because there are no long-term studies looking at a vaccinated group against a non-vaccinated group of children, we just don't know how many children or which children get serious reactions or suffer long-term injuries from vaccines. Yes, it's true that these reactions are rare, but they do happen. Not to mention that there is a also the possibility that some vaccines may be related to certain autoimmune diseases.

Oi! As if being a parent wasn't hard enough!

In my internal debate, the rare possibility of a side-effect from vaccines was weighed against the possibility of my breastfed-not-in-daycare baby catching one of these illnesses. The chances are also very low that she will catch anything serious in her first six months (when diseases such as HIB, pertussis and Pc are most dangerous). However, I decided that I could not take the risk that she might get sick with something serious, that is also preventable. So I decided to vaccinate her in the same way I did for Isaac.

But this time around I followed Dr. Bob Sears' suggestion to only give one aluminum containing vaccine at a time. When I asked our family doctor about this she said she had not heard about aluminum being a concern.  But I know there are many studies discussing and linking neurological damage to injected aluminum. So I still opted to only give her the Pentacel and next month we will give her the Prevnar...and continue to do one per month until she gets all her doses. The MMR will also wait till she's older. Our doctor didn't object, though I could tell she was being very placating. Oh well. I am glad I stood my ground and didn't feel pressured to go against what I wanted. She did give me a very convincing and reassuring talk about the safety of vaccines, but if she hadn't heard or read about the concerns on aluminum how can I trust the assurance she has on their safety, when she might not have all the info? And that's the thing...doctors are not trained in medical school to question vaccines. In fact, they don't really receive any information on how vaccines are made, or their possible adverse effects. So for me, asking my doc about it isn't all that reassuring.

After Elsa's first dose of Pentacel, she became very irritable and fussy. She didn't seem to want to nurse, she would latch on and pop off over and over at every feed. Tylenol didn't seem to help. Of course, I wondered if this might be related to the vaccine or teething or getting sick? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. It's just impossible to know because we can't ask them how they are feeling and where it hurts. But I will say that my gut tells me it was from the vaccine.Also, it has now been 1 week and she's still teething, but that irritability and fussiness is gone. She is nursing better (even though she's still at the same stage of teething) and she isn't sick. She just wasn't herself this last week...and now she's back to her happy-go-lucky self. Now I am not sure how I feel about her next dose! Maybe I will wait a bit longer between doses to allow for her body to process the vaccine and its ingredients.

I wish they had a pertussis-only vaccine. It's really the only disease that worries me at this age. But alas, that vaccine does not exist yet.

Coincidentally {just how synchronicity seems to happen!!! And what finally prompted me to write this post!}, yesterday I came across this video. It's a new documentary on the vaccination debate. It's very well done, in my opinion.

Currently, it's streaming for free on Vimeo, but I'm not sure for how long. Anywhoo, here is the link: The Greater Good.

I am not writing this to start a fight on this issue, I just wanted to share my thought process on what I decided to do with my daughter. And maybe in doing so, provide some info to other parents. And I should clarify that I am not anti-vaccine. I do think that they have been important and have been part of the reason our children get sick less nowadays. But, I also think that there's more to the issue of simply vaccinating or not. I wish there was better data being collected to really solidify the safety {or non-safety} of vaccines. I think it's important for parents and doctors to be provided with information on this so they can make the decision that's right for the child.


  1. My oldest got all his vax on schedule (he's 13 years old now) until he was five. That's when I began to question the safety of immunizations and started doing my research. My little guy (just turned 3) didn't get any vax until he was 2 In fact, he didn't even see a doctor until he was 2. No doctors would even see us without my consent to give him all vax! We finally found a doctor last year. He has only gotten the DTaP and Polio vacines. DTaP wasn't for the pertussis in our case, but for the tetanus. He's an adventurer who has no fear. It's only a matter of time before he gets himself hurt. And the polio was OK'd by me bacaue it's such a terrible disease and there have really been no strides toward curing it.

    I agree with you on the MMR and Varicella. Getting all of these diseases guarantees that the child will never need to worry about getting boosters in their adulthood. BUT, should they forget or not be able to afford the boosters and end up catching one of them, it can be life-threatening in an adult. (Plus, males face the possibility of sterility.)
    Yikes! guess I'll stop now. This comment has turned into a post!

  2. It's a hard debate because there is so much conflicting info.

    My 1st boy got all vaccines except for the MMR and Varicella. That's when I started getting informed.

    My 2nd son isn't vaccinated at all. I am 95% comfortable with that decision. I'm also confident that the natural-term breastfeeding we do will help them both.


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