About two months after your child is born it’s common to have a check-in appointment with your pediatrician to see how things are coming along. Is baby growing? Eating? Hitting developmental milestones? And, to receive their first round of childhood vaccinations. Like lots of other things in my life these days, until recently I hadn’t given even the slightest thought to whether or not Abigail would get her vaccinations. We all got vaccinated growing up, so why would it be any different for Abigail? Well, I did what I know I should NEVER do when I’m not sure of my position on something – I Googled vaccination controversy. Go ahead, try it – you’ll get about 3M results on the topic. Most surprising of all the results? Jenny McCarthy is viewed as somewhat of an authority on the issue. Yes, the same Jenny McCarthy who just announced that she’s posing nude again in Playboy for her 40th birthday. Enough of Jenny…the point of this post? It’s not to come out against all vaccinations which seems to be the trend these days for upper-middle class (mostly white) parents. Rather, like everything else we blog (complain) about it’s to question why BEFORE we just follow what is supposedly the “right” thing to do. Here are a few facts to chew on:
- In the 1980s there were seven vaccines: Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Polio. Since some of these vaccines were combined or given by mouth kids received 5 shots by the time they were 2 years old. Never more than one shot at at time.
- By 2010 there were fourteen vaccines: In addition to the ones listed already, Hib, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, Varicella, Pneumococcal, Influenza, and Rotavirus have been added to the list. Now it’s possible that a child might receive up to 24 shots by the time he/she is 2 years old and five shots in a single visit.
- By the late 2000s American children were being told by government health officials and pediatricians to get 48 doses of 14 vaccines by age six and 53-56 doses of 15 or 16 vaccines by the time they are 12 years old.
- The global vaccines industry was valued at $24 billion in 2009 and is expected to reach $52 billion in 2016. At $52 billion the vaccines industry would rank about 75th (out of 182 countries) on the global DP list published by IMF.
- In February 2011 the Supreme Court ruled that people injured by vaccines saying they were improperly designed must rely solely on a compensation system created by a 1986 law and may not sue vaccine manufacturers.
Not to mention the controversy that suggests a link between certain vaccinations and autism.
While there’s no doubt that vaccinating our population has been on the whole successful, it’s the recent proliferation of new vaccines that has me concerned. Generally speaking when you’re talking about the kind of money that’s involved in the vaccines industry I am pretty skeptical about the government looking out for my or my child’s best interests. Remember, at one point in time the government thought smoking was okay and that it was fine for babies to sleep on their stomachs.
So what does a parent do? I’m not sure there’s any right or wrong answer here – it all comes down to what you’re comfortable with doing as parents. For us, we have three simple guides:
- Ask your pediatrician questions. Your pediatrician should be willing to walk through each vaccination with you, give you the risks associated with each and some advice on whether all vaccinations are truly necessary. If your pediatrician isn’t willing to do this or blindly follows exactly what the CDC recommends, it might be time for a new pediatrician.
- Do your research but be aware of what’s fact and what’s fiction. Welcome to the internet! There’s so much misinformation available online that it’s very easy to become more confused about what to do. With a bit of digging, I found that many of the most alarmist claims were pure fiction. But there are some serious concerns out there about the long-term impact of vaccinations which you should be educated on before choosing to vaccinate.
- Do what’s right for your family. I’ve learned in these early days of parenthood that everyone has an opinion on what to do. And I suppose this blog is no different in that regard. But at the end of the day, once you’ve made an educated choice about what’s best for your family, be CONFIDENT in that choice. That doesn’t mean preaching about it to everyone around you, rather just be comfortable in what you chose to do.