When Josiah was born, I did what all “good mothers” do and I vaccinated my child. Of course! My mom vaccinated us and her mom vaccinated her, etc…It only made sense. I wasn’t even buying into this anti-vaccine thing. As the years have passed I’ve slowly started to reconsider my stance on the vaccine subject. I’ve gone back and forth many times and haven’t been able to make a decision.
Josiah just turned 5 so he’s through getting vaccinated for a while — but wait! Arkansas just recently started requiring the Hepatitis A shot to go to school. Of course, Josiah is not going to public school so I don’t care what they require, but it got me thinking. What in the world am I letting them vaccinate my kids for and is it really necessary?
Samuel is only 4 months old so he in the prime time for getting vaccines and since he was born the nagging feeling that something needed to change just wouldn’t leave me alone. So I started researching.
*Note: Before I continue, I would like to say that I am NOT one who believes that any of the above vaccines cause or increase the chances of autism, allergies, asthma, blah, blah, blah…there are too many variables involved when it comes to pinning down the cause of higher numbers of these issues. You can blame the fact that we know about these issues more (like ADD/ADHD). You can also blame all the hormones in our meat, GMO’s, gluten, High Fructose Corn Syrup, artificial sweeteners (aspartame, etc), food dyes, or all the other artificial crap they are putting in our food. This post is NOT about debating whether MMR or any other vaccine causes any of these issues.*
**Note 2: Everything in regards to required vaccines and age requirements is based on Arkansas.**
In Arkansas, here are the list of shots children are supposed to get from birth to 5:
- Hep B
- Hep A
- Flu shot
My question to you is, do you know what half of the above vaccines are for? I knew what about half of them were for before I did the research.
Let’s start with Hep B. This shot is recommended to be given at birth, 1-2 months, and between 6-18 months. The way to contract Hep B is through contact with infected blood, or other bodily fluids. I have to be honest, what is the point of requiring this vaccine at such a young age? How many babies do you know that are going to come in contact with blood or bodily fluids to get Hep B? Now if a family member has it, then maybe vaccinate. However, for my kids — there’s really no reason to subject them to this vaccine as a baby.
RV — This is the Rota virus. This virus is a contagious gastrointestinal illness that causes diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Infants and young children are most likely affected and can be hospitalized and die from this virus. This vaccine makes sense to me. It affects my baby — if I don’t give them this vaccine they could possibly get this illness and die because their body can’t fight it off. Is there a chance that they’ll never be exposed to this? Of course, but I don’t really want to take that chance. The chances of my kids coming in contact with this is much higher than Hep B. The benefits outweigh the negatives on this one.
DTaP — This is the Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vaccine. I’m really not that worried about Diphtheria because this illness is most associated with the 1800s and kind of goes next to Smallpox in my book, BUT there have been cases reported in the past 20 years of this illness. Tetnus is also a big one — do you know how many times Josiah has cut himself on something metal or that might have rust on it? Tetnus, or lock jaw, can cause all of your muscles to stiffen, including neck and chest muscles. It can cause you to suffocate because you can’t breathe. Pertussis is whooping cough — I did the research and the number of cases were extremely high (100,000+ range) between the 40s and 60s. In the 70s and 80s those numbers dipped into the 4,000 range. Starting in 1990 those numbers started going back up. They spiked starting in about 2000 and now they are in the 50,000+ cases a year range and still increasing. Infants and small children can die from this. There were several cases of this in the counties surrounding where we live just this past winter. There is a good chance my kids could come in contact with Pertussis, so this is another one that I’m OK with my kids getting vaccinated for. Benefits outweigh the negatives on the DTaP for me.
Hib — (Borrowed from the CDC) Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine prevents meningitis (an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia (lung infection), epiglottitis (a severe throat infection), and other serious infections caused by a type of bacteria called Haemophilus influenzaetype b. It is not out of the question for a child to contract pneumonia and although it’s less likely that they contract meningitis, the threat is still there. I was on the fence about this one, but Samuel spent a week in the hospital with breathing issues and Josiah had RSV at 6 months old — breathing problems are not something I want to mess around with. So yes, I’m OK with this vaccine too.
PCV — This vaccine helps prevent Pneumoncoccal disease. Pneumococcal disease can cause pneumonia, meningitis, or blood infection. Yes, this sounds similar to the Hib vaccine, but it fights 13 different bacteria that can cause the above issues. Once again, pneumonia and meningitis is something that my children could be exposed to. For me, I feel comfortable with this vaccine. Benefits outweigh the negatives for me.
IPV — This is the Polio vaccine. Did you know that the last confirmed, reported case of Polio in the United States was in 1979? Why are we still worried about vaccinating for this? If you’re going overseas where the disease is still active, then yes, get the vaccine. But my 2 month old needing it? I’d say no. But wait, for those that want to argue that the reason this doesn’t exist because people are vaccinating against it — yes that’s true, but unless someone has sprinkled Polio germs everywhere, I think we’re OK. Not only that, but remember Smallpox? That used to be a required vaccine, but they stopped giving it in the 1970s. Why? Because it was no longer relevant to our country and there wasn’t any risk therefore no reason to vaccinate. Who says they’ll even require the Polio vaccine 10 years from now? This one is a no-go for me. There is no point in vaccinating my child for a disease that hasn’t even been diagnosed in this country for more than 30 years.
MMR — The most controversial of all vaccines, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. Like I said earlier, I am not one of those that is convinced this vaccine is related to any illnesses or autism or anything like that, BUT there has been enough evidence to give me reasonable doubt. MMR is given between 12-18 months, which is also when signs of autism will pop up. I don’t think there is enough evidence to prove that autism is related to the MMR shot, but there have been so many reports of issues with the shot compared to the number of children popping up with Rubella or the Mumps, that I have to say I feel uncomfortable about this vaccine. This is a safer than sorry issue for me. I don’t necessarily believe that MMR is related to these other illnesses, but I can’t know for sure without more evidence. I do know that there is compelling evidence that they could be related though. The benefits DO NOT outweigh the negatives here. No MMR for our family.
Varicella — This is the chicken pox vaccine. Regardless of whether you get the vaccine, you will still probably get the chicken pox. The vaccine just minimizes the severity of the illness. Chicken pox is very common and can be very serious in small children. The benefits outweigh the negatives for us. Samuel will still get this vaccine.
Hep A — See Hep B above. This is contracted in basically the same way and the risks are about the same. This is a newly required vaccine. I am NOT taking Josiah to have this shot and I won’t make Samuel get it. It seems ridiculous to make my children get a shot to prevent an illness that is most often thought of as a sexually transmitted illness (although it’s not the only way). This is a no go for us.
Flu shot — I’ve never received this shot, but Josiah has received it a few times. I actually had a doctor this past year tell me that despite getting the vaccine he still was stuck in bed for over a week deathly ill with the flu. He said it was pointless to get the flu shot because unless it protects against the particular strain of flu in your area, it will do you no good. I’m still kind of on the fence about this one. I’m not worried about getting the flu shot for myself because the flu will only make me really sick (I have had the flu and I spent a week in bed with 103 fever), but if Samuel or Josiah got the flu it could be fatal to them. I’ve still got a few months before I have to worry about the flu shot so I’m still giving that one some thought.
In my research I found that about every 5-10 years the state/CDC recommends a new required vaccine. My husband is about to be 32 and he never received the Hep A, Hep B, Rotavirus, or the Hib vaccine — those were all added to the requirements after he got out of grade school. The CDC has started recommending that teens get the HPV vaccine (Human Papillomavirus). HPV is responsible for many of the cervical cancers. The problem is, the vaccine is fairly new (within the past 10-15 years as far as recommending it) and there have been issues with it and they’re still not sure of all of the risks.
What vaccines will be added in the next 5-10 years? I’ve seen articles by the CDC proposing that students get the anthrax vaccine. When will the Polio vaccine be eliminated? When are we going to stop and say, “that’s enough”? I understand the purpose behind vaccines and as I’ve shown above, there are several that I’m OK with, but there are also a few that I disagree with.
I’ve struggled with this for several months. I’ve researched this topic on and off for a few years. My advice is, know your stuff. Do your research. Know what they are giving your child. I haven’t even touched on the ingredients in the vaccines because let’s face it, unless you’re going to stop taking OTC and prescription meds in general, you’re probably ingesting and allowing your children to ingest stuff that could be just as bad. Know where you stand on vaccinations BEFORE your child sees their pediatrician. I actually printed out the chart that shows when they give each vaccine and I’ve X-ed out the ones that I don’t want Samuel having. As parents, our job is to stay informed in order to protect our kids. Your thoughts may be different from mine. Many parents agree with vaccines 100%. Many parents disagree with vaccines 100%. I’ve decided that I fall somewhere in between.