Sunday, April 13, 2008

thoughts on vaccines

There are so many things I could write about, like sleeping, eating, costs of "stuff", but I've decided that I have more to say about vaccines because it's such a controversial topic.

As you know, I decided to put Thumper on an alternate vaccine schedule because of my concerns w/ the aluminum in vaccines. A parents mailing list I'm on recently had several posts on this subject. Since I didn't want to get into the fray of the discussion, I thought I'd post my thoughts here.

There were two posts, one was a parent wondering why pediatricians don't support her desire for no vaccines, and the other was about whether or not non-vaccinated children affect vaccinated children. The majority of the emails were from pro-vaccine people. Most of them had the view that non-vaccinated children are doing so on the backs of vaccinated children (due to the herd effect); that non-vaccinated children make vaccinated children unsafe; and that vaccines are there to save lives.

I think I take the middle of the road approach on this. It's kind of sad that pro-vaccination people and no-vaccination people are very adamant about their point of views and can't see the other side. One reply was from a doctor, who said that he's seen his share of children suffering from meningitis or rubella; things that could have been saved from vaccination. He also said that there's the "let parents be the ones who can make the best decisions for their kids" argument, which is hard for pediatricians to accept, given that they see their share of neglectful parents. And finally, that pediatricians think of themselves as caring for children, rather than "serving" the parents.

I liked his arguments for vaccination alot. When you browse the web for advice, a lot of parents like to use the, "you know what's best for your children, trust your instincts" line. If we knew what were best for our children, we wouldn't be asking for advice would we? While I also think that "experts" aren't much of experts, I do think that there are some ways of doing things are better than others. And sometimes there IS a right way and wrong way of doing something. Would one say that the parents who decided to pray for their children instead of seeking medical help is actually the right way, and that they should trust their instincts?

Anyways, I totally understand where pediatricians come from and that's why I don't really begrudge them when they try to convince me to follow the vaccine schedule. It doesn't mean I think they're totally right, but that I understand their motivation.

Then there's the "your un-vaccinated child has an effect on my vaccinated child". That many children died from these diseases before we had vaccines. That in other parts of the world, un-vaccinated children continue to die from these diseases. I don't think it's that black and white. I think it depends on the specific vaccines and your lifestyle.

And here's my main point. First, we don't know if vaccines cause autism. But supposing there is some sort of link. Then, how many children actually die from chickenpox, vs how many children are affected by autism. We keep seeing ads about how every 26 minutes a child is diagnosed w/ autism; or something like that. That just seems like such a high rate compared to the # of unvaccinated children in the US that get sick and die.

I know that I take my chances when I don't vaccinate my child on schedule. But I'd rather take that chance than to take the chance of having an autistic child. Having an autistic child is something you have to live w/ that child's whole life. That is so much harder to deal with than having a child die. Yes, probably an unpopular sentiment, and not that I want my child to die. But if you could do something to decrease your chance of having an autistic child, wouldn't you take it? Esp since in the current environment, my child is not likely to die from things like polio or HIB AND I'm going to vaccinate them when they start childcare?

Of course, there's the argument that we don't know if vaccines cause autism. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. Better safe than sorry I say. I'm also making sure my child eats well, live in not as polluted are, and not touch a lot of plastics, in case other environmental factors play a role. I try to make sure I eat well, both during pregnancy and breastfeeding phase.

On the other side, the pro-vaccination people keep forgetting that it's not that black and white, even w/o the mercury or aluminum issue. It IS true that sometimes vaccines have weird effects on children. And it is also true that there are lots of unvaccinated adults (since they were on a different vaccination schedule) that could transmit these diseases. AND, sometimes you can get the disease even when you vaccinate! Vaccination isn't a cure-all.

1 comment:

Les said...

Hi There:

I saw your comment on the spinning babies blog about your baby turning breech at 37 weeks. Can I ask how things turned out?
My baby flipped breech last night and I'm 37 weeks, was expecting to homebirth with my midwife....I'm just sick at the thought of doing hospital or c-section. I'd really like to hear your experience.
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