Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Vaccination Debate

This stems from the post I wrote below about the flu shot. The comments I received got me thinking and well, here it is ...

I vaccinate my children. And while I personally think vaccinations are best for any child, I do believe this should be the choice of the parent. I admit I have never done "anti-vaccination" research and only know bits and pieces through what I've read in the mainstream media. So I won't be actually debating the topic here, as I simply don't have enough information to do so.

But I do have a question about the aspect of not vaccinating. To ask the question, I need to put out some of the information I just now gathered from to sources: immunizationinfo.org and the CDC.

The following statistics on a handful of diseases the US vaccinates against are pertinent to my question:

~ Measles: Before country wide vaccinations, virtually every person in the US would get the measles by age 20. Since vaccine was introduced, this number was reduced by 99%. The death rate is only .3% (three out of every 1,000 will die) and the percentage of those who would develop pneumonia is 5%.

- If there was no vaccine: The US population in 2007 was a little over 300 million, which all would get the measles by age 20. This means 900,000 would die and 15 million would develop into pneumonia.

- With the rate decreasing 99% since vaccine, in 2007, 3 million would get the disease. Only 9,000 will die and 150,000 will develop into pneumonia.

~ Mumps: Before vaccine, there were 200,000 cases each year resulting in 30 deaths. There were only 600 cases in 1998.

~ Pertussis (Whopping Cough): This was known as the most contagious of all diseases. A full 90% of the un-vaccinated will contract the disease if they come into contact. Before the vaccine, there were 147,000 cases each year, of which 8,000 would die. Whooping cough is still around, in 1997 there were 9,771 cases, but it's a drastic decrease from pre-vaccination times. And with a 5.4% fatality rate, we're lucky to have a decrease of 137,229 cases each year, which relates to 7,410 lives saved each year! 528 deaths per year are a lot, but much less than the 300,000/yr worldwide death rate.

~ Polio: Before the vaccine, 20,000 people were paralyzed by the disease each year. 1,000 people would die. Since the vaccine? Zero people have contracted the disease in the US.

~ Rubella: Before the vaccine, there was an outbreak in 1964 when 12 million people contracted the disease. This outbreak caused 11,000 fetuses to die and 20,000 babies born with permanent disabilities (deafness, mental retardation, heart defects, liver and spleen disease). After the vaccine, there are less than 1,000 cases each year. The worldwide number? 110,000 each year.

~ Smallpox: This is termed the most devastating of all diseases. Before the 1950s, it caused over 50 million cases each year, resulting in 15 million deaths. The death rate is 30% for the un-vaccinated. Although this disease was determined to be "eradicated" in 1980, due to biological warfare, it's still a huge risk to society. The US has small samples for research, but clandestine stocks can be found in more than 10 countries. Some of the stockpiles consist of dozens of ~tons~ of the smallpox strain!

~ Diphtheria: Before the vaccine there were 200,000 cases each year, resulting in 10,000 deaths, with even more suffering permanent damage. Since 1991, there has been one case reported.

~ Tetanus: I didn't get total numbers for this one, but 30% of the people who contract it will die. And it's more likely for a newborn infant to die.

So, my question ... I don't think the people who are against vaccinating their children are arguing vaccinations don't work. The numbers above speak for themselves if you ask me. I don't think anyone could argue the vaccines are worthless. So I am assuming here that the reason parents are choosing to ~not~ vaccinate are due to the risks involved with the vaccinations (be it complications, death, autism), not the aspect of the vaccine not working.

If that is true, does it also stand true the parents who do not vaccinate DEPEND on the majority of parents to vaccinate their children so the un-vaccinated children won't contract the disease?
If so, how is this rationalized to be moral? They don't want to risk the issues with vaccination, but they also wouldn't want their child to contract any of the terrible diseases, only some of which I spoke to above. So for their child to be safe, they ~need~ other parents to risk the vaccines on their children or the US would simply be overridden in disease again.

Let's take measles as an example. If no one vaccinated, each and every person would have a .3% risk of dying of the disease. Per wikipedia, .1% of people have autism. Wouldn't the risk of death from measles be 3 times higher than the risk of autism? And that would even be skewed, because the .1% autism rate would be assuming 100% of autism developed from receiving a vaccine, which I don't think it is.

So, dying from measles ~alone~, not to mention any of the other 23 diseases which the US vaccinates for, would account for a risk three times that of the risk of autism (assuming all cases of autism came from vaccinations.) I guess I just don't get it. It seems to me the risk of the diseases if everyone stopped vaccinated would severely outweigh the risks of the vaccinations themselves.

I'm not arguing the fact there are serious possible side effects to vaccines. I'm not arguing some people do die from them. I'm not arguing there could be an autism link. What I am questioning is the risk of death from any of the diseases outweighing the vaccination risk.

MrsSpock mentioned some great points in her comments to my last post. While recognizing the VAERS database shows there have been 3,064 deaths *caused by vaccines in the last 18 years, in the same time period, the flu has caused 648,000 deaths (36,000/year). Just another example how I do not understand how such a small risk is determined to be the greater risk.

* "Every occurrence in the database is self-reported, meaning there may be deaths that have not been reported, and there may be quite a few in the database that are caused by other means, like SIDS, chronic condition, or something unrelated to a vaccine." MrsSpock states an example of how a " ... child died from anaphylactic shock related to ingested food- yet the death was reported on VAERS because it fell within a month of receiving a vaccine."

I still believe the choice to vaccinate or not should be up to the parent. I would, however, really like my bolded question outlined above be answered. I have already admitted to not knowing the anti-vaccination platform, so maybe I'm simply missing a very important piece of information. I would really appreciate it if someone was able to clue me in.


Sara said...

Ya know - I never even thought of the question you posed. I will vaccinate my children. All of my friends, family, etc.. vaccinate. I have always respected those who chose not to, or who chose to vaccinate on a different schedule. I, however, had never thought that, in order for their children to not contract disease, they are really counting on other parents to vaccinate their children.

More and more research is coming out that shows vaccinations are NOT causing autism, etc... I just hope everyone educates themselves with all of the information.

I am interested to read the comments as you post them.

Anonymous said...

I'm posting as an 'anon' because I have gotten in trouble over this before. Basically, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think it is unfair to those of us who DO vaccinate our children that they are still at risk because of those who choose not to. I think it's incredibly selfish and I'm happy that most public schools require these vaccinations. Hopefully my children will not be exposed to any unvaccinated children. JMO and I know others will argue against it.

Sarah R said...

My reasons for delaying/selective vaccination have very little to do with autism and everything to do with other side effects.

At his 8 week check-up, my son was given 7 different vaccines via three shots. After he awoke from his 3 hour nap, he cried continuously for 7 hours. During that time, he would wince at any and every movement, even if I was just holding him. He would try to latch on to nurse and then start screaming. It was a different kind of cry--he had acid reflux so I know what his pain cry sounded like. This was like an eerie, high-pitched scream. At one point, I looked into his eyes and they were darting around erratically. I thought I had ruined my child. I thought I had done permanent damage. I was terrified. I had even given him the recommended dose of Tylenol to lessen the pain. I started researching and came across several other moms whose babies had the same scream as Andrew and they never woke up the next morning. It was discovered that the DTaP vaccine can cause a particular side effect called "cry encephalitis", a condition where an adverse reaction occurs from the vaccine and causes swelling of the brain, which can result in death. Some of these mothers even took their babies to the ER and were told that it was a normal reaction, only to have their babies never wake up the next day. I counted my blessings when after 7 hours of intense screaming, he suddenly stopped. He was himself again.

I talked to my doctor and decided that I wanted to delay vaccination. He will eventually get caught up. I will spread the shots out. I haven't started the process yet, but by the time he enters kindergarten, he will be mostly caught up.

I understand that my situation falls into one of those "can happen, but not likely" situations, but I didn't want to chance it. I would argue that any mom who went through what I did would feel the same as I do now.

Also, the doctor mentioned that since Andrew isn't in daycare and stays home with Daddy, he is at less of a risk of contracting certain illnesses. She also mentioned that it was great that I was breastfeeding. Andrew receives a lot of protection from me. A side note, but did anyone know that formula fed babies have twice the incidence of diarrhea due to the fact that mom's immunities are stored in baby's intestines? I just read an amazing article (will soon be published in Journal of Immunology) that long before mom begins producing milk, her immunities start storing in a certain "channel" so to speak, to be saved for later. The immunities build for years. Once mom begins producing milk, the immunities flow freely to baby and are actually STORED in his intestines. I found this amazing.

Anyway, flu shot. I just don't understand why suddenly NOW it is such a must. When I was a child, it was not even considered as a standard vaccine. I have never had influenza in my life (not to be confused with the gastrointestinal virus, or "stomach flu"). I saw 3-4 staff members last year, all of whom received the vaccine, contract influenza (positive tests at clinic). They were out of work for 1-2 weeks. I think it's a personal choice. Anyone can choose to get it or not. I don't ever tell anyone they shouldn't get it, I just choose not to.

One thing about the polio vaccine is that the downward curve of incidences was way on the down slope before the vaccine was introduced. The main reason that contributed to less cases was better sanitation. We discovered the importance of clean, sanitary water and better handwashing.

Also, mothers of vaccinated children should have nothing to worry about us "un-vaccinators" because if their children are vaxxed, they are protected and cannot contract the illnesses.

To reiterate, I probably would have continued down the recommended vaccination schedule had my son not had a reaction.

I talked to the Director of Nursing at my work, a nurse who has 30+ years of nursing experience under her belt, and she said that she felt that it is just too many shots at once. She believed it would be far safer to spread them out. She said that the vaccines WORK, there's no arguing that. However, she went on to state that it's an awful lot of different compounds to be injecting into an 8 pound baby at once.

I did my research thoroughly and came to my decision. I think no matter what a mother chooses, as long as she is well-researched and confident in her decision (either way), that is what matters.

And, I hope you don't hate me, Nancy. I certainly think every mother has a right to choose whatever she feels is necessary to parent her child(ren).

Anonymous said...

Before my partner had our daughter, we took a birthing class in which the general vibe was hippy dippy. While M was most comfortable with a medicalized birth (induction as needed, epidural if possible, etc.), the birth teacher taught us a great set of questions to ask before accepting (or rejecting) medical interventions.

1) "What are you giving me?"
2) "Why are you giving it?"
3) "What might happen next if I take it?"
4) "What might happen next if I don't?"
5) "Are there any alternatives with fewer risks?"

We used these questions for vaccinations. We never considered NOT vaccinating her, but we were concerned about febrile seizures (as both febrile and non-febrile seizures run in M's family). The compromise alternative... do the full complement of vaccinations, but do them one at a time, with a few weeks between each one.

We made our choice to vaccinate. It was the right choice for our family. Although I don't know anyone in the anti-vaccination camp, I respect their freedom to choose the non-vaccination route.

As long as my kid's vaccinations will protect her from non-vaccinated kids' (potential) cooties, I see no need for strife between the two viewpoints.

Hollie said...

I really like your bolded comment about people who don't get their children vaccinated counting on the ones that do to keep their children from gettting sick. It's very true. I've never thought about it that way. It really doesn't seem right when you think about it that way for people not to do it!

It makes me angry (if I can go that far) that people don't get their kids vaccinated. I understand that the government should not force people to inject their children with anything. That would open the door to possible horrible things. But, after looking at the statistics and learning that the vaccine is safer than risking getting the disease, why wouldn't you do it?

Maybe I'm getting a little snarky here (using Nancy's word) but this is the safety and health of the children in this country!

Julie said...

Great question Nancy, I can't wait to hear your reader's responses. I have often wondered the same, are the parents that don't vaccinate simply relying on the parents that do to protect their children? OR do they not believe these diseases are current risks to be concerned about?

VHMPrincess said...

My major issue w/other people depending on MY children being vac'd to keep their children safe. So let's say THEIR kids do get it somehow (cases of those things are on the rise because of children that do get vac'd, according to our pediatrician). So - then this child comes in contact w/a parent bringing in their child for class and their newborn. WHO IS TOO YOUNG TO GET THE VACCINE and now the newborn is at risk (of course, I assume the sick child doesn't KNOW that they are sick yet and neither do the parents)...but now that parent and child are exposing people who CAN'T get the vac. when they really do not need to be doing so.

Also, some people ARE allergic to the other ingredients in vaccines and cannot get them - they TRULY do depend on us to keep them healthy, it is not a choice of theirs to get the vaccine.

fuentes said...

I think the moral issue you raise in your question is a good one. And while we are leaning towards not vaccinating, we are not depending on others to do so in order to prevent our children from coming in contact with the various diseases. In fact I live in LA and knowing there are many foreigners traveling though our area that may be carries of diseases makes me nervous.

I am for safer vaccinating but we know that like with anything that is overseen by government or large corporation’s changes are probably in the future, but are a long way off. Our current plan is to look at the pros and risks of each vaccine and from that information decide if or when to give our child that particular vaccine. I do not plan on giving my child any vaccine before the age of 4, and I will space them out as much as possible, in hopes that this will allow their brain and immune system to develop enough to hopefully aid in preventing some of the negative side effects that are currently being connected with vaccines.

I was vaccinated as a child, and when I knew we were getting close to starting the ttc process I went and had an MMR and tetanus booster, and most years I do get the flu shot. I believe these things are helpful, however like many things in medicine I think they may be over done and may have gotten “sloppy” over the years because of influence by the almighty dollar.

Elana Kahn said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you. I also think that doctors need to ask questions before they just vaccinate because it could drastically reduce the number of children who have bad reactions. Such as #1) has anyone in your family had a problem with being vaccinated? #2) is your child allergic to eggs? #3) is your child currently on antibiotics etc etc. I was vaccinated, my sister was, my husband and his whole family was, and so far no problems. I've been going back and forth, but from the statistics you gave, I think I'd take the chance of autism rather than risk my child getting sick.

nancy said...

Sarah R - Of course I don't "hate" you for your own choices! You are just as able to make your choice as I am to make mine. I don't judge parents who don't vaccinate. Like I said, I vaccinate, so your choice to not vaccinate doesn't really effect me at all.

But you didn't answer the one question I did have about those who don't vaccinate. And although you will end up vaccinating, this question will hold true until you do get your child "caught up" .. "does it also stand true the un-vaccinated depend on the majority of parents vaccinating their children so the un-vaccinated children won't contract the disease? "

VHMPrincess said...

I just wanted to add - because my oldest was in preschool and exposed to many germs, I had my kids vac'd almost on time -1 shot per 2 weeks. Yes, I had to go back lots and pay lots of extra copays but that way I would know WHICH shot might be causing a reaction and also none of my children ever had the reactions to be warned of when they give up to 4 at a time - so you can break them up to give their little bodies a chance to not be overwhelmed.

And also - just because you've been vac'd doesn't mean you won't get it - Chicken Pox is an example of one you can still get w/the shot, but you won't get it as bad - so if someone IS at school with it they CAN spread it to other kids and/or siblings that aren't vax and/or adults that can't get the shot due to an allergic reaction.

Sarah R said...

To answer your question, no. I don't worry about the illnesses. I don't see them as a threat. My mom had both mumps and measles as a child because those were not part of the recommended vaccinations at the time.

I don't depend on other children being vaccinated; I guess I just am willing to take the risk.

Like I said, I would have continued the vaccines had he not reacted the way he did. And I read someplace that if your child has a reaction (like the one he had), the next time it is likely to be more serious, and even more serious the next time. Since those shots are in a series, I just didn't want to take the risk of him hvaing a worse reaction the next time.

MrsSpock said...

I thought I would just write a post myself- it'll be up soon.

nancy said...

Most people who survived long enough to have children definitely weren't in the .3% for measles and .015% fatality rate. That's why so many of us have parents who "survived". But if someone said "give me your child and they will have a .315% chance I will kill them, you better believe I won't do that! ~wink~

Totally not arguing with you. I was simply surprised how scary the fatality rates were of some of the diseases that are still prevelent today. Like measles is still definitely out there and .3% of the children who contract it will die. 9,000 people died last year from the measles. I don't know what I'd do if I was against vaccinations. I'd feel like I had to hide my kids!

(and yes, i totally understand your reason for waiting on many of the vaccinations. If my child had a reaction like that, I may be in your same exact boat.)

Poltzie said...

This is, hands down, my favorite of your posts!
I agree with everything you have said and I appreciate you posting about it.
I think most people hear things and without doing any research on their own they just believe them. Ya know the whole "state of fear" thing. The biggest example (and the one that drives me crazy) is the autism link.
First of all, I'd rather have an autistic child than a dead one (and I worked with autistic children, I know what it's all about). Secondly, it's only the 18 month vaccination that was ever linked - not all of them like most people believe. And, it's been disproven now. Here is a great link about it from a respected and credited website:

Thanks again Nancy, this post should be on Dateline or 20/20!!

Geohde said...

I vaccinate.

I also find alternative heath belief systems where vaccines are somehow bad or evil and worse than natural infection as saddening. Because it doesn't add up to scientific scrutiny. It just doesn't. Some of it, I think, is because we are lucky enough to live in an age where Bad Bad Things are in the past and removed from the collective conciousness....

Yes, I believe people can or cannot vaccinate their children as they see fit, but don't tell me that they aren't lucky for herd immunity (the concept you're talking about), even if they don't believe in THAT either sometimes. Oh, and of course the unvaccinated do form a reservoir for vaccine preventable disease, there is a concept call the reproductive number which represents how infectious a given disease is, some are so very infections that vacciene coverage needs to to be very high to keep it from circulating in the susceptible...

Anyway, I guess my views are to be expected since I am a medical practitioner, but no I've never been paid by drug companies for vaccinating. I'm not that low, so that one doesn't wash...

As for the autism 'link'. So very thoroughly debunked by much solid research.


Sarah R said...

:) Thank you for seeing where I'm coming from.

I was fully vaccinated as a child and so was DH. We had no complications. We didn't predict Andrew would either.

I guess I'd liken what I'm doing (for the time being) akin to eating lunchmeat a few times while pregnant even though there was a chance I could contract listeriosis and miscarry. I knew the risk was small, and I only ate it a couple of times. But, the chance was still there.

Most likely in the next year, we'll start doing vaccines again. Just one at a time, and we'll spread them out over a couple of weeks or months.

Miss Tori said...


As you know, I have no kids, so can't give personal experience one way or the other. However, I read recently (you may have too) that parents are holding chicken pox parties, in the hopes that their child/ren contract the disease while they are young, to build up natural immunities to the disease.

I wonder how smart this is. I had chicken pox when I was in the 4th grade, and it was the pits, nothing life threatening though. However, to intentionally expose your child to the disease rather than get the vaccine? Which would be the lesser of two evils? Really gives you something to think about.

I do agree that it is up to each parent to make the decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate their child. However, I have to ask, if their child does contract some deadly virus that may have been preventable and the child dies, is that parent ready to face the what-ifs he/she will be asking him/herself?

Coffeegrl said...

Hmmm. For the sake of argument, what about higher religious or moral purpose? I don't know much about the Christian Scientist religion, but close friends of mine did an open adoption with a young woman whose parents were Christian Scientists. They opted not to vaccinate her or have her seek any standard Western medical help throughout the course of her life. Luckily, her pregnancy went well and the baby was healthy. We asked ourselves this very same question but didn't feel it was ever the right time to question this mom's decision and we never pursued it any further. But my point is that maybe there is some higher reason for not seeking this kind of medical help? Perhaps a belief that God will intervene when/as/if necessary and this is the only medicine one needs? I am not trying to make any judgments about this and I'm only making very wild guesses, but maybe someone with more information could comment.

Jennifer said...

I vaccinate and I have a coworker who does not. At one point I had thought about using her babysitter for my DD. I seriously worried about DD getting something from my coworkers children because DD wasn't old enough to be vaccinated yet.

I used to think that I wouldn't vaccinate my child(ren) for chicken pox because once they get it they are good and vaccines have to be repeated. I then read a story in my "Baby 411" book about a child that ended up dying from chicken pox complications. Apparently the chicken pox vaccine was introduced a week later. Also, now that i have DD, I feel horrible for her when she has the slightest illness and I do not want her to suffer and vaccines (I feel) keep her healthy.

I can also understand parents using a different schedule. It is a bit unnerving when they give her multiple vaccines at one time and if there is a reaction we would have no idea which one it was. I thought about using an extended schedule, but so far she has been fine.

I can imagine what it was like when vaccines were first introduced and how relieved mothers must have felt...especially those that had lost children to diseases.

Anonymous said...

My dad has told me scary stories about polio and how it affected so many kids in the not-so-distant past. The vaccine was created when he was a kid, and he was in that first group of children to receive it. Thinking of this scenario from my "modern" point of view, I remarked that his mother must have been very worried having a brand new vaccine administered to her children. Absolutely not, he said, because no potential side effect was scarier than the disease itself.

Today we don't give these diseases much thought, but they can be much more dangerous than we realize. I simply couldn't bear the thought of my daughter dying of a disease that is so easily preventable - I vaccinate.

nancy said...

Coffeegrl, I would definitely put the relgious aspect as a parent's right to choose. Although as an "outsider", I would be driven crazy to watch someone die because their religion is against something that would save their life, but I have to keep in mind it's their way of life and I have no right to judge that.

Anonymous said...

hi.Just wanted to add another perspective to this discussion.
Firstly, there is actually very little proof the flu vaccine works at all,( though many vaccines do)..and there have been cases of vaccine induced polio in America. ie the person got polio from the vaccine.Its why people don't like the live vaccine type.

Have a question:if you were a parent, you vaccinate your healthy bubbly baby boy: and he screams constantly, that night.and never speaks again, eventually you get the diagnosis of autism, and then you have another child.The doctors say it was a coincidence, you vaccinate again. Same thing.Two children who will live out their lives in an institution unable to talk.If God blessed you with a third child would you vaccinate? Why or why not?

By the way, many vaccines only provide protection for five or ten years., (so unless you or your family have hepatitis, or think it is likely that your child is going to be a drug addict or having sex before the age of 10, the hepatitis vaccine is all risk and no benefit for most people.)
Which brings me to another point.Respectfully, it seems that most parents (who firstly only had ten shots in the 80's and not the 30 + given to children now... and whose vaccine protection from the ones they were given has generally worn off in any case) are themselves part of the people who are not vaccinated.
Most adults, in fact are basically unvaccinated.

It nice that one person acknowledged that some adults can't get vaccinated(auto immune problems, egg allergies etc) unfortunatley no one is looking at the newborn before they vaccinate them and finding out about their auto immune history, or has any idea if they are immune to eggs.
Actually, many people who are bringing forth information about vaccines ( and studies like the monkey study that shows that the thimerosl in flu vaccines can cause brain damage by depositing mercury in the brain..)are doing it becasue they care about YOUR kids and want to protect them.It is often too late for their own.
When there were only ten vaccines, autism rates were much lower. Now at 1 in 150, the rates of autism spectrum disorders are higher than any plague we have ever had.If more vaccines are added to the schedule, who knows whose child or grandchild will be affected.Apparently it costs about a million to support a severely autistic child for life.That money will come out of your normal childrens' pockets.
For those who don't support freedom of parental choice, may I suggest two things 1)first at least make sure you are vaccinated yourself,
and secondly go and offer to babysit a severely autistic child for a day.
If you are lucky enough to have children who have currently survived the vaccine schedule, thank God, and maybe respect the fact that others have different , more difficult choices to make.

Mrslady1975 said...

If we are ever blessed with children, we will be vacinating. We will do a delayed scheduled due to a family history of high fevers and febrile sezures affter vacines. But, I would rather provide to my child some kind of protection then none. BTW, when we vacation in Thailand, the whole family got boosters as well and Hep A shots. I don't regret it one bit Very interesting topic. Thanks for providing the stats.

margelina said...

Vaccines do NOT cause Autism. Period.

MrsSpock said...

My post is up.

Also, my 2 cents:

Getting the flu vaccine reduces your likelihood of getting influenza by 80% during a flu season. It does not protect you against every virus that causes flu-like symptoms. To say that it has been proven the flu vaccine doesn't work is not based on accurate scientific data. Here's a reliable source:

Thimerosal has not been in vaccines since 2001, with the exception of a couple brands of flu-shot and the tetanus-only vaccine. You can request the mercury-less brand.

Booster shots of many vaccines are required because the widespread use of vaccines has caused the severe decline or even elimination of exposure to the natural disease in the community. Before vaccines, and during the early years of vaccinations, there were enough mumps, polio, and diptheria floating around and occasionally exposing folks to a disease they had either had or been vaccinated against. This served as a natural booster to their immunity. Now that we are not being exposed to these diseases in the community booster shots are necessary.

This shows how well vaccines ARE working, not how they are not.

There has been a recent study (http://www.hivandhepatitis.com/hep_b/news/2008/062008_a.html) that shows Hep B that has been given in infancy may need a booster in adolescence, and may not be giving lifelong immunity as thought.

As a nursing student, I was told infants are being immunized against Hep B because "it is easier to get them in for the 3 shot sequence now rather than as teenagers". Not a sufficient reason for me, so we are deferring it. As a nurse, I am immunized. I've been stuck with a dirty needle. Thank God I didn't contract anything.

The live oral polio vaccine is not given anymore and has not been given in the US since 2000. 1 in every 2.4 million children given the OPV would develop polio symptoms- very very rare. OPV is still used in countries where polio is endemic.

The rate of diagnosing children with autism has increased to 1 in 150- that is correct, and overall there are 1.5 million Americans ages 0-100 who may have autism . This does not mean that 1.5 million new cases occur every year- it means this is the number of cases total.(http://www.emedicinehealth.com/autism/article_em.htm). To say this is a plague greater than anything we have ever seen is inaccurate.

For comparison:
1.4 million children worldwide die from vaccine preventable illnesses every YEAR.
In the US:
700,000 new cases of gonorrhea are diagnosed every year.
45 million Americans age 12 and older have herpes (1 in 5 people)
1.1 million Americans are HIV positive
20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV (the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer), and 6 million more are diagnosed each year
4.4 million children are diagnosed with ADHD

This is just to provide some perspective and accurate data, and not to downplay the difficulties a family faces with an autistic child.

FYI, I am the legal guardian of my 65 year old uncle who is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Tanya Lavine said...

Honestly, I intend on vaccinating any children I have. You need them to attend school/college...and I just never thought twice. However, I know there are risks. But, there are risks in everything. As you said, what if they aren't vaccinated and get something terrible that could have been prevented? I wouldn't be doing my job as a parent. Now, I don't agree with pumping them full of vaccines right away, because it can cause damage. The only vaccine I would not give is this new one for girls. I believe in educating on safe sex/abstinence. Not in giving a free romp. Unfortunately, I am one of those cases where I got the polio vaccine, but it was a bad batch in the late 70's. About 20 of us that I know of in my area got polio. Most of us were lucky that it was confined to a small area, like one leg. I've had lingering issues, but I'll get by. But, that is one of the risks. The standards today are hopefully much better than they were in the 70's and 80's, and I don't think that this has happened since.

Anonymous said...

Holy moly! I thought GETTING pg was the hard part, I can't say that I've ever thought about whether we'll vaccinate! Very good points raised from both sides. I think I will be interested in learning more of the "separate & spread the vacs out" route when the time comes. I would also be open to picking & choosing which vaccines I think are worth the risk. Even chickenpox can be serious. I got them in 2nd grade- mild case, out of school for a wk that I didn't even feel so sick for. When my little sis got them, they went internal! Up her nose, in her ears, in her privates, even one on her eyeball! No permanent problems from it though.

I've been vac against Hep B, keep current on my Tet., but have never gotten a flu vaccine. I have had influenza once, not much fun. But the way I see it is there's usually a shortage, so I leave them for those who truely need them.

By the way, if you are breast feeding, your infant should be covered for 6 months from your own antibodies.

Keep em coming Nancy! Great reading when I get bored at work! :)

~Steph (my_teffie from Webmd)

Krista said...

I do have a child. She has been vaccinated.

While not the same thing, there are similar debates on this related topic: I also have three dogs - two of which are related. Typically, dogs are vaccinated much more often in their lifespan than people. When my 9 year old dog was 3 or 4, he had a severe allergic reaction to a combo vaccine. I don't know which part of the vaccine caused it. Since that time, all of my dogs (which are close in age) have only been vaccinated for Rabies as is required by law. I don't worry about them contracting the diseases for a few reasons: 1) They were each vaccinated several times as younger dogs, and the protection should last them quite some time - the majority of their remaining lifespan 2) They are indoor suburban dogs and their chances of being exposed to those diseases are minimal. 3) We don't expose them much to other dogs. (no boarding, no classes, no doggie sporting events...etc). These are my dogs. I love them greatly, but I accept this risk I'm taking. I don't know if I could accept the same risk for my child though. A child's circumstances are very different from my dogs.

I wish that we could find a happy medium with the vaccination schedule for children - where fewer combination shots are given, or at least the combo shots are spread out and not given with two or three other shots at the same time. I do think that would be wise. I also wish I had spoken up with my pediatrician and requested such a schedule for my daughter.

I do believe in vaccinating. I will do it. I would also support alternative scheduling of the vaccines given though, mainly to avoid overloading the immune system, and to narrow down the culprits should a reaction occur.

With all that said, in the instances we are around other dogs with my dogs, I am glad that those dogs are vaccinated, because that does help limit my dogs' chances of being exposed (if their own immunity has worn off). That is as close as I can come to answering your question.

tammy said...

My thoughts on vaccination are not dependent on other kids being vaccinated so my child would be safe.

I think that we over vaccinate for adults, too.

If someone is sick at all when they get the flu shot, it will increase their chances of getting sick.

Also, the flu shot can increase a decline of Alzheimer's patients in Nursing facilities (The medical director at an AD facility was doing case study on it.)

We are causing the super bugs by not allowing the body to build up its own natural defenses agaoinst the environment.

nancy said...

Steph, yes, if you breastfeed, the child is covered by your antibodies, but only thosse that your body could fight anyway. If I didn't get the flu shot, the baby wouldn't be covered by those strains covered by the flu shot.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification Nancy! I did kinda wonder why a pg person would consider getting a flu vaccine. Oh, the things they never tell us "baby virgins"! LOL!


margelina said...

Just had to add...super-bugs are prevailent from the overuse/mis-use of antibiotics. Giving antibiotics for every little thing, especially virual illnesses that they do nothing for because a patient complains enough or asks for them, not finishing the entire course of antibiotics, and taking any "left-over" pills at the first hint of feeling ill, all have to do with the increase in super-bugs. Vaccines have not a thing to do with it.

Lisa said...

All I can say is that my boys are being vaccinated and will be getting their flu shots...

It's a parent's right to choose... and that's the choice I am making to keep my kids safe from all these diseases.

My DH spent some time in Indonesia for work and got a little perspective on this matter. One of the men working at the paper mill had a wife who was dying from tetanous. They do not have access to vacines and these people are dying of treatable/ preventable diseases. How sad is that?

Martha said...

Hi, Nancy, so glad things are going well w/your pregnancy. You look beautiful and happy your son is active. Good luck w/your GTT.
As a pediatric RN for many, many years, I've dealt w/vaccine debate often. I wanted to answer your bolded question re.vaccines. Yes, parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are depending upon what is called "community" or "herd" resistance to protect their children. It's a false sense of security, folks don't realize how omnipresent and virulent diseases like measles, mumps, and diptheria can be. I have taken care of many children fighting for their lives with these diseases. The pediatricians I have worked with will not accept a patient if the parents refuse vaccination. Great post, thank you for sharing on this important topic.

Bea said...

Just popping in to say I agree with you. I commented over at Spock's before I read here. It is a consideration, and many parents ignore it when they choose not to vaccinate. Of course, this does not apply to any situation where there is a medical reason for not vaccinating.

One more thing: a lot of people use the "superbug" argument against vaccines. They are getting confused with antibiotics. Antibiotics work in a completely different way, and the two are not analogous. People should discuss the issues fully with a doctor before making their choice, because there's a lot of misinformation like this out there, especially on the internet.