The Vaccination Debate

Moonfacecolour

Mike and I have struggled with the frustrating topic of vaccinations for Poppy. 

Firstly, we have found that most of the information available from the non-vaccination side of the argument are based on American standards (which make our research even more frustrating!).  We took Poppy to her first check up with the pact to gather information only.  The nurse practitioner was patient, but firm in her belief that we should vaccinate.  The biggest concern was with the mercury and autism link even though it has recently been debunked.  We were surprised to find out that, in Canada, the only vaccine which contains mercury is the flu shot (a shot we wouldn't go for anyway and even that is much less than you would find in a tuna sandwich).   She also told us that people spend too much time fretting over vaccines when a very real issue lies in the overuse of antibiotics (something else we try to stay clear of as well).

We decided to move forward with the vaccinations one step at a time; one decision at a time.   We have agreed to do the bare minimum and will not be going for the chicken pox or flu vaccines. I am still nervous to trust the same people who allowed drugs such as Thalidomide into the world, but I don't want to make these decisions based on fear alone and put Poppy at risk for diseases that are preventable.  All we want to do is make the right and healthy choices for our child.

Now we are faced with the H1N1 virus and vaccine.  The virus seems to be a ruthless and unpredictable one and that makes me nervous.  It is also close to home as my mother works with a woman who's 4 year old daughter was just diagnosed with the virus, though only a mild case. 

We have never been ones to get a flu shot, but everything changes when you have a child.  Everything.  It feels impossible to make the right decision or know what information is true.  We are forced to play the 'what if' game to the bitter end.  What if we get Poppy vaccinated and she suffers some rare or unknown side effect?  What if we don't vaccinate her and she is one of the ones to get a vicious case of the flu?  What if we take the risk of vaccinating and it isn't effective?  All we can do is chose the lesser evil in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't scenario.

Is it really any worse than flu strains of years past?   Every year it seems to be a new thing that is going to wipe out humans; the bird flu, listeriosis, SARS, the swine flu.  Is this just the over-drugged world that we live in complete with mutating super bugs and insanely intelligent viruses?  People are taking too many antibiotics and numbing their symptoms  with drugs so that they can go to work and infect the public rather than taking the necessary time to heal. 

It is hard to know the right answers, but it all makes me want to go deep into the woods and never come out. 

Please share your thoughts and experiences.

e.

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18 Comments

  1. Posted October 29, 2009 at 10:43 am by ||| laura frantz ||| | Permalink

    My six year-old has H1N1 right now. His fevers at night have hovered right around 104, he is congested and feels rotten without ibuprofen. But he is recovering. And yet his doctor says he still needs to get the H1N1 vaccine because getting the virus doesn’t necessarily grant immunity to the virus. This statement, of course, is in direct contradiction to the entire theory of immunity. If getting and surviving the H1N1 virus itself does not impart immunity, why would the vaccine? All this to say…I don’t think anyone knows for sure what is going on. I think we need to use common sense and make our own decisions — trust your own intuition. That’s what I’m going to do. Personally I’d rather nurse them through the flu itself than risk Guillain-Barre.

  2. Posted October 29, 2009 at 10:50 am by kate | Permalink

    I feel like I could have written this post– we have gone through the exact same conversations, worries, and decisions (although we are in the US). We do vaccinate– although on a slightly slower schedule…sort of along the Dr. Sears approach). We don’t do the chicken pox vaccine, especially as it now requires boosters, and have never had flu shots. Our entire town has H1N1 right now– they closed schools for a week (although we homeschool, even going to the grocery store freaks me out!). I don’t think we’ll get the shot for it– as every case in town has been basically like an influenza a, without real complications or issues. That being said, my daughter, who is 20 months old, had some serious respiratory issues as a baby. While she is fine now, I still fear a virus that is known for causing lung issues. For now, we’re pushing elderyberry, vitamin C, and echinacea in addition to extra fluids and low-key days…and hoping for the best.
    To be honest, I have friends that are strongly for vaccines and lots of friends strongly against vaccines.
    I’ve had to learn to close my eyes, take deep breaths, filter as best I can through information– and filter out the scare tactics of both sides– and go with my gut. For us, that’s the “big” vaccines on a slower time frame. For others, it may mean standard medicine, and still others, no vaccines at all. Best thing we can all do, I think, is to recognize each family is doing what it feels is best– no judging, no bullying on way or another.
    best of luck with the decisions– I’ve still cried and practically had panic attacks every time one of my three gets a shot, so I know this is no easy decision!

  3. Posted October 29, 2009 at 11:52 am by mamaloves | Permalink

    Thanks Erin. I was thinking of writing this exact post. We vaccinate but again only the bare minimum. However, after much deliberation, last night my husband and I decided we would get the H1N1 vaccine and here is why:
    1) Those who have it say it has taken two weeks to recover. I have twins and so I can’t imagine how we would manage if we all got this flu. I have very little to no help and truthfully I don’t think I could manage on my own.
    2)My husband and I agree that in our life-time we have never seen anything like this…no other vaccine has ever been pushed like this one.
    3)I don’t want to be a carrier and give it to someone who gets complications and can’t manage the systems.
    4) I can’t control others (to wash their hands or demand that everyone take off their shoes when they enter my home) but I can take precautions for my family.
    So we had made up our minds and then I read this article on CBC (my most trusted source)http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/10/28/f-vaccination-debate.html. We are still undecided but it’s nice to know the decisions others mamas are making. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Posted October 29, 2009 at 1:55 pm by Cheryl Arkison | Permalink

    A very thoughtful post. I think people need to make their own decisions, but I am firmly in the vaccination camp. Living in Canada we don’t have the same schedule or even the same vaccines as the US, where most of the anti-vaccine research comes from.
    I worry that the more people who choose not to vaccinate the more we will see a return of disease that is preventable. And these are diseases that are seemingly mild in many cases but can cause life-long complications. And it isn’t always the things you think about. For example, I had chicken pox in grade three. It was awful, but I survived in tact, except for some scars on my face. Some scars that bothered me tremendously through the insecure teenage years. It may sound vain and shallow now, but think about how drama filled nearly every teen is.
    I am comfortable with our decision to vaccinate and do so on the recommended schedule. You need to be comfortable with your decision as well.

  5. Posted October 29, 2009 at 7:54 pm by candice | Permalink

    I feel the same on most issues and didn’t get will his chicken pox, but i do do the flu or have before with him. I’ve personally decided to definetly not get the h1n1. it’s a newer vaccine and it does seem to be some what exploited almost.

  6. Posted October 29, 2009 at 9:21 pm by Amanda | Permalink

    Such a confusing topic! I have 2 boys 6 and 3 years, and we are vaccinating at a slower schedule than recommended. Two years ago they both got pertussis during an outbreak at the older one’s school. This experience has changed my attitude about vaccinations. Neither were vaccinated against pertussis. The older boy got it first and had a LONG HARD time of it. I never feared for his life or anything, but he was home for a good month and then we were pretty holed up for the rest of the winter fully recouperating. It is now known as the “WInter of Whooping Cough”! The numerous children infected at school were both vaccinated and not…pertussis is only about 85% effective, I guess. There wasn’t really a judgement obout unvaccinated children, though. But, my then 1 year old who was also infected (but caught early and treated, so he suffered barely at all) happened to have been at a state run playgroup before we knew. The State Health Department had to interview me, and they had to notify all the jparents who had had children there. I felt very much stigmatized and guilty. Especially when they had all those little babies, one and two year olds taking serious antibiotics as a precautionary measure. I realized I never wanted to be in that position again…I felt so badly and irresponsible. It was amazing how quickly the fear I felt towards vaccinating my children turned into fear of being responsible for harming other people’s children! I finally understood the “public health” argument. Thank god a pregnant woman didn’t catch measels from my child! My children are still not fully vaccinated, and a couple we will probably only get if we travel abroad, but we are working our way through the basics.
    I completely respect any individual’s choice not to vaccinate. It’s been an interesting personal journey for me to arrive at the point where we are now.
    As for h1n1…I have no idea what to do! Supplies are so slow in coming I don’t have to decide until January, though. We are also daily using elderberry extract, echinacea, vitamin c, and vitamin d in attempt to prevent the flu.

  7. Posted October 30, 2009 at 8:31 am by elizabeth ~ so wabi sabi | Permalink

    Dr. Jay Gordon presented some thought provoking information on H1N1 and the vaccination on his website
    http://www.drjaygordon.com
    We were postponing vaccinations until 2, but then some health issues came up so we haven’t done any vaccinations. If we do any vacs, they will be single dose for a single antigen (not combined vaccinations). A really good book I used to help sort through some of this is what your doctor may not tell you about children’s vaccinations http://www.amazon.com/What-Doctor-About-Childrens-Vaccinations/dp/0446677078.but dr. jay has good fact based information too.

  8. Posted October 30, 2009 at 8:38 am by Terry | Permalink

    We have the same concerns around here, although after much reading we did decide to vaccinate. My son is on a delayed schedule so he gets 1-2 shots at a time instead of the usual 4, which is unbelievable to me. I was so worried about the swine flu and then it hit our house. It was not as bad as I had envisioned it to be since we are all healthy. I should share that there are a lot of false negatives with the swine flu. I was told that I didn’t have it, initially. I didn’t know I had it until my daughter tested positive. It is actually a relief now that it is over. I don”t have to worry about it all the time. We do not get flu shots because I have read that they are not very effective and have a nasty ingredients list.

  9. Posted October 30, 2009 at 11:10 am by Jamie | Permalink

    Erin,
    You can check out my post from earlier this week when I talked about this same topic. We do not vaccinate. Sam was seriously ill from the first few vaccines as a baby and we have done lots of research and lots of talking. We decided that I could not do something that I still had reservations about. We have a great system of support with homeopathy, chiropractic and great family doctor. We treat illnesses when they come up and support the body as it heals. We embrace illness as we feel that the body needs a time to go inward before going forward. We have seen how the kids launch forward in their development and lives after being ill. Even a little cold can make a huge difference.
    We are constantly having to remind people that we are o.k. and that this decision is one that we are confident in. With the new H1N1 we have to reconfirm that what we are doing sits well with us. It is mainly others are that scared for us rather than us being concerned. I just can’t imagine putting chemicals into my body and the bodies of my children. They are perfect little beings with bodies that work well without anything else.
    Always go with the mothers gut. Nature gave it to us for a reason. It is always right.

  10. Posted October 30, 2009 at 1:19 pm by JoAnn | Permalink

    We became a non-vaxing family after the birth of our 3rd daughter. She got her first series but hasn’t had any since.I did a lot of reading and talking with my husband. Our big push to not have the vaxes was influenced by having a daughter with a mood disorder and one with severe eczema that I can trace back to showing up after a vax appt.
    It was not a decision made lightly.
    As for H1N1 we are experiencing that now. I had it first and then the littles followed suit. We have rested, pushed fluids,upped the Vit C, taken ecchinacea and decreased sugar intake.The fever’s got high but responded to treatment and the coughs sound yucky but they’re lungs are clear as of Wed.
    You and Mike have to make the decision that is best for your family. (((hugs)))

  11. Posted October 30, 2009 at 7:08 pm by Ana | Permalink

    Thousands more people die every year from the “regular” flu than the H1N1, and yet nobody made a big deal about it until now. If you wouldn’t get the regular flu shot then it follows you wouldn’t want to get the H1N1 shot, either. Next year the H1N1 strain will be included in the “regular” flu shot along with the other strains of flu thought to be most likely to happen that year. Read this: http://www.healthzone.ca/health/newsfeatures/swineflu/article/717085–h1n1-is-serious-but-no-need-to-panic?bn=1
    That being said, the H1N1 shot is supposed to be no more dangerous than the regular flu shot, as it was created in the same way.
    As for mercury & autism and vaccines, yes, that was recently debunked and never had any real evidence for it to begin with (just fabricated evidence). Unfortunately, because of that myth, certain places of the world started not vaccinated their children in large numbers… and diseases that we’d almost completely gotten rid of, like polio, started coming back with a vengence, and children were/are dying from it. I think I would rather have an autistic child that lived to adulthood than a non-autistic one that died at the age of 5, even if that myth were true.
    Just some thoughts. I wouldn’t know what to chose if I were you either. As important as it is to be vaccinated against deadly illnesses (not only for our own children’s sake but also for humankind’s sake, so these plagues don’t come back), it causes an instinctive reaction to not want to put anything in a tiny baby’s body that was not there naturally.
    p.s. this is mystic in training, aka Ana… I’ve changed my xanga name.

  12. Posted October 31, 2009 at 12:06 am by Tasha | Permalink

    I’m so glad that you have shared your feelings on this one. Oh, have we ever had a week of thinking along the same lines as you, Erin. What hard decisions to make! Everyone needs to gather information and make their own decisions, of course, but we did decide to have our 5 year old and 13 month old (and ourselves) vaccinated against H1N1. Our big boy did just fine, but our little guy ran a high temp. for several days, which scared me silly. The doctor did say this seems to be a normal reaction for this vaccine thus far–but boy did I ever feel absolutely horrible over it. Thankfully, he is just fine now and all is well. But, all that to say, I absolutely understand your dilemma. I think we have to have some faith in the informed choices we make for ourselves and our families so that we can have peace in our lives–I’m working on this one so that I don’t always feel so freaked out over all the options out there–and over wondering if I am making the very best choices. I wish you the best in coming to your own decisions for your family’s health.

  13. Posted November 1, 2009 at 1:38 pm by Joan | Permalink

    The previous posters have made some very good comments. I too could have written your post, Erin! My 10 month old is on a different (i.e. slower) vaccination schedule because I don’t feel comfortable giving 4 or 5 types of vaccinations at once. How would we know which one caused a problem if there was a complication? The lack of non-biased information on vaccinations and side effects led me to Dr. Sears book The Vaccine Book. Check it out from the library, it is a very informative book. I won’t give my daughter the H1N1 vaccine and my husband and I probably won’t get it either. I don’t send my baby to daycare and I breast feed her. While I am not a hermit by any means, I feel that her risks for the flu are decreased in comparison to other babies who are in daycare and receive formula. In the end, I make decisions I am comfortable with and do not make me worry unnecessarily (kinda hard for a first time mommy). You can always change your mind if new information or circumstances evolve! Good luck.

  14. Posted November 2, 2009 at 10:48 am by jenny jean | Permalink

    (sigh) What to do oh what to dooooooo? After many conversations and many more hours on the net trying to find credible sources for information we have decided not to vaccinate for h1n1. Several 4yr olds, and seniors in my life have the virus and are ill, but not seriously. We too did take the slow vaccination root and did not do the pox vax. We figure we’ll handle a sick bout the same way we would any illness – only this season we would head to the doc sooner if symptoms linger. I really like Joan’s point about changing decisions as info/circumstances change. Good luck muddling through, and I mean that sans sarcasm!

  15. Posted November 2, 2009 at 4:19 pm by Liz | Permalink

    I believe in my body’s natural ability to fight off infection and disease. I acquired all of the age-old childhood diseases (mumps, measles, chickenpox, etc.) and according to most, I must be some rare specimen considering I didn’t have any complications. There has been no evidence supporting vaccinations to satisfy my concerns and I’ve always said that until the vaccination industry becomes non-profit, I will choose not to vaccinate myself or my child. Good luck with your decision. It can be a tough one.

  16. Posted November 5, 2009 at 7:33 am by lily boot | Permalink

    we here in Australia have already been through our winter of swine flu – and working in a girls’ boarding school, we actually had quite a little epidemic on our hands – over two thirds of the boarding house came down with it over a 3 week period. On the whole, the girls felt dreadful for 2 to 3 days with high fevers, body aches and the upper respiratory symptoms – and then they were completely over it and back at school. I didn’t get it (and I’m an asthmatic who doesn’t get the flu shot each year), my Abby who is 11 didn’t get it, my husband and my mum both did – felt shocking for a couple of days, made a complete recovery. This seemed to be the pattern for all the people I knew – everyone I know who had it, said it was more contagious than the regular flu, but way less debilitating. I didn’t read of any instance of death that didn’t involve an underlying chronic condition. Australia’s dose of swine flu was before there was a vaccine available. Having seen the flu in action – and having given Abby the recommended vaccination from 3 months old – we are *not* going to have the H1N1 vaccination. I would rather let our bodies build up a natural resistance – and H1N1 is just not that bad. Save the vaccinations for the awful things like whooping cough. I wish you well with your decision. :-)

  17. Posted November 11, 2009 at 2:52 pm by Amanda | Permalink

    Tough choice. Good luck deciding! What I can say is that I would vaccinate my own child against H1N1, but use the single-vial thimerosol-free version. As a deadened virus, I’m not afraid of it. But what I am afraid of is that young people and pregnant women have had the highest rates of complications (and mortalities), and so in order to protect myself, my little one and others around me like small kids and pregnant women, I feel like I’d be doing our part. It’s soooo hard to decide, though! Good luck to you.

  18. Posted November 16, 2009 at 4:49 pm by Asiyah | Permalink

    I just found your blog and am really enjoying the read. Because my husband and I work in highly populated areas and our children are both in corporate daycare, vaccinating them against preventable childhood diseases was more important that potential risks of autism. We have stayed current on our immunizations but will not opt for the H1N1 vaccination. Nevertheless, whatever decision you make is the right one for *your* family.

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