Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Vaccines

Three weeks ago, when Ella and I traveled to Georgia, I upheld an important annual fall tradition of mine - I got a flu shot.  I am always very careful to get my flu shot because several years ago, when I was in college, I got the flu.  The real flu.  The I-feel-so-terrible-that-I want-to-die-because-this-is-worse-than-having-my-fingernails-pulled-off-by-tweezers flu.  That was the first time since I was born that I've had to go to the hospital, and it was horrible, so ever since then, I have always made sure to get a flu shot.

This year is a little bit different, however, because in addition to getting my own shot, I am taking Ella to get her flu shot.  Several people that I know have questioned whether this is wise, since there seems to be a recent trend opposing vaccinations for young children.  I do not follow this trend, and I honestly don't really understand it.  I do believe that parents should have the right to make this decision in accordance with what they believe to be right for their children.  But I do not appreciate people who try to scare me out of getting my child vaccinated.  There are decades of research to support vaccinating your children, and if you're going to play the odds, I'd much rather have my child take the chance of getting some unproven side effect of a vaccination than the well established (and much scarier) risk of them getting a terrible, and often life-threatening, disease.  I realize that people don't like to trust the government, and being a conservative, I often agree with that viewpoint.  However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention studies give well-established, peer-reviewed information about the usefulness of such vaccines. 

I'm not trying to convince people that they're wrong if they choose not to get shots for their children.  But that's not a risk that I'm willing to take. 

What are your thoughts?

4 comments:

Sarah Jayne said...

I fully agree, and it is nice to hear someone else say it for once. I have a cousin who is autistic and his condition has always been blamed on his childhood immunizations. I don't disbelieve, or even doubt, that immunizations may have done this, but I also don't believe the mass hysteria that vaccinations cause autism. Period. I was watching something the other day (daily show, perhaps?) that had an Oprah clip on with Jenny McCartney (I think) and an MD discussing the effects of immunizations. The MD made a couple of great points about the resurgence of polio correlating with parent's increasing decision to not vaccinate their children. Poor guy could barely get his tongue in next to the other "expert" -- an actress who has (correctly or incorrectly) believes that her child got autism because of his/her immunizations. If we have kids, our decisions to immunize (or not) will rest in scientific fact and probabilities of infection versus side effects as opposed to Oprah et. al.'s scare tactic-wielding crusade.

Anyone want my soap box? I'm done!

Megan said...

Amen! From a pediatrician of course - I have seen so many kids recently with pertussis because parents aren't vaccinating their children. While it's not all that life threatening in most older kids, it can be fatal for young babies who are exposed to it before they have received their vaccines. Same goes for the flu! And safety wise, the flu vaccines have been made for the same way/same technique for years and years - just different viruses in each one. Anyways, we all got the same vaccines when we were little.
As for the autism association (or lack there of). All studies have proven no correlation between vaccinations and autism or Thimerisol (the ingredient previously blamed) and autism. As a result, all the vaccines we give are now Thimerisol free anyways. For those people that say the autism rates have increased recently with more vaccines being given - the increase is really in the numbers diagnosed not the true number of cases. Previously children were not screened for autism as they are today and the criteria for diagnosis were not cleary defined. Anyways, if you ask me it's important to vaccinate your kids. Even the flu can be fatal for children with risk factors like asthma or immune deficiencies.

Kristen said...

I definitely agree with you both. (Obviously.) My dad advised me to pay the extra ten dollars to get the Thimerisol-free shot when I was pregnant just because there was no reason to take a chance. However, he did tell me that there wasn't any evidence that it made a difference.

We're following the American College of Pediatrics guidelines for Ella's shots, and things are going well so far.

Meghan said...

I agree with this as well. I know someone who says his brother is autistic probably because of mercury that was used to preserve the vaccines when he was little. I know that in the past mercury was used to preserve some medicines, but there is no mercury and I don't think even Thimerisol (which goes along with what Megan said) used to preserve any vaccines anymore. I didn't even know that until recently when Will's mom, Elizabeth, told me. She's a ped. nurse, and she said there is no Thimerisol or mercury in any of the shots they give anymore. So really, not vaccinating seems to be pretty much based on unfounded fears from misinformed or uninformed people.