The Vaccination Debate

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time, but every time I started, it just overwhelmed me.  There are so many opinions out there about what parents should be doing for their kids.  And I’d say, the choice to vaccinate is one of THE most controversial because what we choose to do or not do can affect the well-being and health of others.

This is the current recommended vaccine schedule for children from Birth to 15-months:

Based on this schedule, the average baby now will have received a total of 23 shots (minus Rotavirus, which is administered orally) by the time he reaches 15-months of age.  Prior to 1985, children were only required to receive 5 vaccine shots by the time they were 5 years old, and no more than one shot per visit.  Here’s a fascinating outline on the history of vaccine schedules and how they’ve evolved over time.

After researching this topic to death, and looking at both sides of the spectrum to get a more balanced view on the subject, I decided to follow an alternate vaccination schedule.  The idea of 6 different vaccines in one visit for my 2-month old infant didn’t sit well with me.  I’m no medical professional, but I know the world of medicine is constantly evolving and what could be true today might be false tomorrow (just look at how much our dietary recommendations have changed in the past 2 decades!).

I wasn’t reassured by the idea that the CDC vaccine schedule was backed by sound scientific research.  The medical field is just as driven by money and lobbyists and politics as the rest of them.  One of the first questions I asked my pediatrician of choice was her perspective on vaccinations.  I was relieved when she shared my views in administering an alternative schedule.

This chart shows my daughter’s vaccinations to date:

(bc I’m not skilled in photoshop, I didn’t add in the vaccines she got at 9-months, which were the Hep B + Influenza.  It also makes me wonder, why didn’t the CDC have 9-month vaccinations on their schedule?  It would make more sense to space it out a little more than to jump from 6 to 12-months with nothing in between)

As you can see, my daughter has never received more than 3 vaccines in one visit.  My pediatrician told me that it would be ok to delay vaccines like Polio, which is now considered non-existent in the U.S. and entire Western hemisphere.  By looking up each disease one by one, you can find a lot of information out there about the prevalence of each.

I do believe in vaccinating.  I believe in protecting our children from preventable diseases, and not putting others at risk because I didn’t vaccinate.  However, I also can’t help but worry about the CDC’s aggressive vaccine schedule.  I struggle with how taxing these vaccines might be on my little one’s underdeveloped body.  At 1-month, my daughter couldn’t even fart without crying because passing gas was too painful due to her undeveloped digestive tract.  That might be a silly example, but it makes me think… are we putting too much too soon into their little newborn bodies?  I don’t have the right answers, but I am trying to make the best decisions for my family based on a combination of research, doctor input, and common sense.

Ultimately, I feel confident in our decision to go with an alternate vaccine schedule.  I think it is a good balance of keeping my daughter (and others around her) safe from preventable diseases while lessening the burden of foreign substances in her body at such a young age.

What are your thoughts for vaccinating (or not vaccinating) your baby and why?

*Author Note: I am not a doctor or medical professional, but simply a mom sharing her personal experiences.  Please seek the advice of a physician before making any serious medical decisions.

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2 thoughts on “The Vaccination Debate

  1. Cool post Angela 🙂 I heard there are some preschools that won’t take children that are fully vaccinated….at least Micah’s montessori in Mexico was like that. He had to have ALL the vaccines for his age before they let him in….and some doctor’s offices oust you if you don’t want to give your kid the vaccines…i know for sure there are many that make you feel like a BAD mom if you choose not to give a certain vaccine. I had one pediatrician that used a different vaccine schedule that required an extra hepatitis shot when Micah had already had all of his. When I asked if this shot was necessary, she said, “Well yeah it’s ok as long as you’re ok with your child getting hepatitis.” i mean i’m ok with vaccines but i feel like parents should have the freedom to choose without being made to feel guilty or being told that they have to find another pediatrician. Anyway this got a lot longer than I wanted but wanted to share 🙂 hehe 🙂

  2. Hi Sadie! Thanks for taking the time to write all that – I’m always interested in other parents’ perspectives and experiences. Noelle is starting preschool next month and she is already admitted, but they just told us to bring the vaccination records when we come. I was just thinking what if they see that she is not fully vaccinated according to the CDC schedule. It was never a topic I brought up to our preschool, so I hope it’ll be ok!!

    I heard stories about the pediatricians that get defensive about the whole vaccination thing, but while I think vaccinating is important… why does it have to be so aggressive and so much? I researched the prevalence of each disease one by one and a lot of them are so rare to get! For example, Polio and Diphtheria are considered eliminated from the United States completely. There were only 24 cases of tetanus reported in 2011. Unless I was planning to travel internationally, I didn’t see why I should worry about her contracting those diseases. Also, since Noelle was raised at home her first two years of life, the chances of her catching anything seems unlikely. HepB is another one they push at birth, but that is usually transmitted through sexual transmission or if the mom carries it… but if we’re a normal, healthy adult there is no reason why the HepB needs to be pushed on a newborn. I also wonder about the ingredients in these vaccines. I think the idea of a vaccine causing some sort of lifelong mental/physical disability scares me more than my girl contracting something like varicella (chickenpox).

    i agree with you, i just want the option to choose what is best for my baby without made to feel guilty about it! that’s not cool how that one pediatrician responded to your question about that extra hep shot. you were just asking! i mean, we are the ones who will have to live with our decisions for the rest of our lives. i’m soo glad that i have a pediatrician that is more conservative about vaccines and gave virtually no pushback when i asked her about an alternate schedule.

    Whew, this was long!! 🙂

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