Tuesday, August 30, 2011

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate? That is the Question

DISCLAIMER:  This post is long and doesn't have any pictures (Sorry!) but it does have some good info about vaccines, requirements by law, and informative websites/links to visit.  If that doesn't exactly float your boat, then feel free to skip over it.  If it sounds interesting it all though, please read on!  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments.  :)

So, with the birth of our 2nd child approaching faster than anticipated (or slower....depending on the day and how hot it is outside), Mike and I have been doing a lot of thinking about vaccinations.

With Marshall we didn't know "better."  The doctor told us that he needed 5 shots when he was 6 weeks old, so we said "Okay, go ahead."  With the exception of his 4-year-old Well Child visit, he has gotten at least 4 shots (actual shots, not just immunizations.  Each shot held immunizations for 1 or more diseases) per visit.  I blame this for the reason that he hates to go to the doctor.  He loathes it.  He starts screaming and crying as soon as we pull into the parking lot.

About a year and a half ago, Mike heard a guest on a satellite radio program he listened to talking about immunizations and the possible link to autism.

Now, I want to clarify:  The guest was not against vaccinations.  He was against the intense vaccination schedule that the CDC recommends.

Instead, he advocates a program called Two and Talking.  The purpose of this program is to vaccinate for only the important diseases.  There are a lot of vaccinations/immunizations that the CDC recommends that you don't necessarily have to have.  Instead, they suggest waiting to vaccinate your child until he/she is two and talking.  That way, if there is in fact a link between any ingredient in a vaccine, or the vaccine itself, you know what is to blame.

Before some of you get defensive and start yelling "But it's been proven there's no link between vaccinations and autism!" at your monitors, read this article and this article (it's long but well worth the read).  We particularly liked the second article because it pointed out that yes, there is no clear link between thimerosal/mercury in the vaccines and autism AND that there is no clear link between the MMR vaccine and autism.  What it also points out is that there are dozens of other ingredients, and plenty more vaccines that have not been tested/studied for links between their administration and autism.

Every article we have read has suggested that we as parents do what we feel comfortable with.  Two and Talking advocates using a less rigorous vaccination schedule and vaccinating only for school requirements.  You can see their schedule here.  Please Note: They are based out of Florida, so if you live somewhere else and would like to follow their schedule, you may have to adapt.

We plan on following their schedule but adapting to the requirements here in Utah with a few exceptions.

The first exception is Hep B.  According to some of our research, 90-95% of cases clear up after 3-4 wks of symptoms.  In the late 90s (yes, I know that it was a while ago, but still....) there were only 279 cases reported in children under 14.  Most sources we have found have said the main way to contract Hep B is to a) get it from your mother at birth (no worries here), b) get it from promiscuous sexual activity (which, hopefully, children under 14 are not engaging in), or c) sharing IV needles (again, no worries here).

The second exception is Varicella.  Varicella is the chickenpox vaccine. Now, I understand that they are trying to prevent this disease, BUT, Mike and I both had it as children and we are fine.  My parents had it.  Their parents had it.  My cousins, aunts, uncles, they all had it.  We're all fine.

So, what do you do if you don't agree with your state's vaccination requirements?  According to the NVIC, there are a few things you can do about it.  If you live in a state that allows you to claim vaccination exemption, you don't have to vaccinate your children.  Some states allow you to pick and choose while others are all-or-nothing states.  In an all-or-nothing state, you either vaccinate or you don't.   Luckily, Utah is a pick and choose state. . . . for now.  State Legislatures are being pressured to remove the personal/philosophical exemption clauses from their vaccine laws, so you'll have to keep checking if your state is one of the ones that allows this type of exemption.  Other exemptions are medical (verified by your pediatrician) or religious (but usually they have to have documented doctrine opposing the vaccines.  Check with your state laws though, because some states may not).

We found Utah's immunization guidebook here.  On this page, a little ways down the page, they tell you which page to find sample exemption forms, in case you don't want to read the entire guidebook.

Now, I'm not saying that based on what my husband and I have learned that you are doing it wrong.  Everyone is comfortable with vaccines on a different level from their friends, family, and neighbors.  Some people oppose it completely (some of my relatives), while others vaccinate whenever they feel like it (other relatives).  We vaccinated Marshall according to our pediatrician's, and the CDC's, recommendations.

The only reason I'm posting this is because maybe you don't know.  Maybe you have reservations but you don't know where to look, and google's not helping.  Maybe you just want to know what other people are doing.

This is our plan for baby girl:

We are going to adamantly refuse the hep B shot given at birth.  There is just something wrong with jabbing your 12 hr old baby in the arm/leg/wherever with a shot full of aluminum, mercury (possibly), formaldehyde, human DNA, and other weird chemicals/ingredients.  (For a full list of ingredients and the possible side effects from vaccines, please go here.)

To start Kindergarten in Utah you have to have 5 DTaP, 3-4 Polio, 2 MMR, 3 Hep B, 2 Hep A, and 1 Varicella.  That is still 16-17 doses before your child is 5.  That seems like a lot.  We are going to claim personal exemption for the 3 Hep B and the 1 Varicella.  This bring's baby girl's total down to 12-13 doses (depending on when she gets her 3rd Polio shot).

We plan on the following schedule:

28 months: Polio
31 months: DTaP
34 months: DTaP
37 months: DTaP
40 months: Hep A
43 months: MMR
47 months: Polio
51 months: Hep A
54 months: DTaP
57 months: Polio
60 months: MMR
63+ months: DTaP (they'll still let you start school if you are working on finishing the series, from my understanding)

By spreading them out every 3 months, we make visiting the doctor less traumatic (no more 6 needles per visit!), and if there is an adverse reaction to the vaccine, we'll know EXACTLY which vaccine it was that caused it.  (heaven forbid!)

I really hope this post helps someone out there who can't decide what to do regarding vaccines.  My husband and I really feel a lot more comfortable with vaccinating our kids (present and future) now that we know more about the vaccines, reactions, and requirements.