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Should or Should You NOT Vaccinate?!

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One mom recently ranted, "Vaccinate Your Kids, You Idiots!" Ouch. Harsh words, but definitely a hot-button issue amongst the moms. Here's what members of our community had to say:

child getting vaccine

Wow - this is a super-charged topic. But to punish and single out the children? That's ridiculous and cruel.

I've seen and experienced both sides of the coin.

1) My son got a cocktail of vaccines when he was one, and within a day was in the hospital.
2) My son didn't get the RSV vaccine when he was no longer considered at risk, but caught it.
I vaccinate my son - but now he receives only one at a time. Yep - one shot every other week until the government mandated schedule is completed.
- Cara

Wow, you really do have an opinion about this. What has made you so angry about this issue? I am one of those idiot parents who chose to learn more about the injections given to my children. I chose to not only take the advice from my doctor (who did not have children yet) but to read several books on the subject. The pros and cons were amazing. I chose to then talk to my doctor about my concerns, which led to choosing the right vac's for each individual child. I think this made me a more informed parent and less of an idiot! My children have contracted diseases from others who have been vaccinated. I never ever thought of having separate worlds and rules for those of you who have chosen full vac's. My advice to you is to become more informed about an issue before making your opinions known. - Sharon Brandt

I can sympathize with your frustration - to a point, but I don't think name-calling and "branding" helps your argument to be compelling. Besides, if your kids are vaccinated, they are not likely to contract the disease from unvaccinated kids. That, after all, is the whole point of vaccination. - Sara

To shed some light on the vaccination topic, we asked pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson to weigh in:

Every parent must make a choice whether or not to vaccinate. Whether your child gets several immunizations at once, or if she gets one at a time, or if you opt not to vaccinate her at all, these are all choices. You cannot just make the debate go away by avoiding the question. And parents are truly struggling with how to best protect their children -- this is why the debate becomes so heated.

In my opinion, the biggest issue here is that parents who choose not to vaccinate their children rely upon the rest of the community actually vaccinating. There are several recent examples of serious, sometimes life-threatening infections (such as measles, Haemophilus influenzae type B, and pertussis) rapidly spreading through communities where a large number of children are unvaccinated. Five or ten years ago, when almost all children received the vaccines, the handful that did not get vaccinated were still fairly safe because the rest of the (vaccinated) population kept specific diseases away. Now, with an increasing population of unvaccinated kids -- particularly in specific communities -- certain infections can appear and spread rapidly, infecting not just children but vulnerable infants and elderly people as well. Before there were vaccines against these diseases, they caused serious illness or even death.

We may be seeing a return to this prior state: diseases that haven't caused problems for decades may be coming back because of our choices about vaccination. So when you choose not to vaccinate your child, it needs to be an educated choice, and an active choice, at that. Part of that choice is specific to your child and part is about general public health. A parent needs to weigh the pros and cons in all directions.

Personally, I believe in vaccines. I vaccinated both of my children, often giving them several shots at once. I did this because I have read all of the data available and as a result I do not worry that the vaccines put my children in harm's way. Rather, I think they have a huge benefit. But I do not impose my personal choice on others. My job as a pediatrician is to explain both sides and then let parents choose for themselves. This choice includes a clear understanding of all sides, including the risks of not vaccinating a child.

Parents who opt to give one vaccine at a time have selected a middle ground that may be reasonable. If you are one of these parents, though, just make sure to consult closely with your pediatrician so that you are choosing to do the most important vaccines first. If you don't know which illnesses are most threatening to children of various ages, how can you possibly decide the order of the vaccines yourself? You cannot. This has to be a fluid and ongoing conversation with your healthcare provider.


next: 5-Year-Old Shot, Killed During Her Birthday Party
21 comments so far | Post a comment now
littlepeapie June 26, 2009, 12:13 PM

Okay….as a speech pathologist and spe ed teacher so I am WELL versed in Autism, it’s characteristics, etc, etc… and with the debates, I was very hesitant to do the full set of vacs for my child….but I have a BFF who is a ped nurse practitioner and this was her point of view: any disease that your child can contract, that is preventable with vacs, is FAR WORSE than autism….so with that thought, I did vac and it was the best choice for us.

C June 26, 2009, 1:38 PM

I am in favor of all the vaccinations, although splitting them up seems like the best plan to me.

I don’t like the idea of persecuting the parents who choose not to vaccinate, because they’ve got what they feel are valid reasons just as I feel mine are valid.

The thing that bothers me is that some babies get sick from exposure to these serious diseases because they’re too young for the vaccines, and kids out in the community without vaccinations can get and spread those diseases. That seems unfair to me.

Educated Parent June 26, 2009, 1:49 PM

littlepeapie. I take a middle road due to my rearch and work with Autistic children and have my children on a delayed vac schedule. I was so sad to hear that you were informed that the diseases that vaccines prevent are worse than Autism. Although the diseases are serious most are treated and recovered from in a short period of time. Autism is a lifetime of pain and suffering and in my opinion, I would prefer my child have measles and ill for a week than a lifetime of developmental and physical aliments. I do not know if vaccinations can cause Autism in certain children…they may not but the hundreds of thousands of mothers in the US alone are not crazy. I think we need to vaccinate but work together to reduce the risks.

opinion June 26, 2009, 1:56 PM

My common sense question for the American Academy of Pediatrics is this…… If some children react badly to milk….wheat….peanut butter…antibiotics why can they not admit that some children are going to react badly to vaccinations. Dr’s frequently deny that any of the post vaccination symptoms are related to the vaccination….”they must have been coming down with something” My happy child cried and acted strangely for 3 days straight after her vaccinations TWICE. How could anyone make me want to do that to my child again?

Rachel June 26, 2009, 4:00 PM

Opinion, I don’t recall my pediatrician saying that there were no risks to vaccines. ? In fact, all of the paperwork we receive and have to sign for vaccinations enumerates the potential risks, side effects, etc. And, Educated Parent, while it’s certainly true that some of the diseases are treatable, many would be devastating. As far as I know, there’s still no cure for polio or diptheria. While pertussis may not be a huge deal for a 5 year old, it can be deadly for an infant. Tetanus? We’re not vaccinating for the common cold. Although rubella is not a particulary terrible disease, it is teratogenic and can cause devastating birth defects. As someone else mentioned, you’re not just protecting your child, you’re also protecting the community. I suppose if you’re going to live an isolated, self-sufficient life in the country, to each his own…

Anonymous June 26, 2009, 4:53 PM

People who don’t vaccinate should always remember that there are some children who cannot have the vaccinations because of other problems medically. By not vaccinating your children you are potentially putting these children at risk, and possibly even directly resulting in their death. If you don’t like the multi vaccinations - get the single ones.

Sarah H. June 26, 2009, 5:47 PM

I know everyone wants to say this is about individual choice…but we live in a SOCIETY. Your choices effect others. Your choice to not vaccinate your child could in theory cause another childs death, along with your own child. My son had seizures after being vaccinated when he was a baby. Im still going to vaccinate my new babies b/c Id rather deal with a fever or a rash or even a seizure than weeks and weeks of serious illness.

irritated June 26, 2009, 7:27 PM

I was just curious if the people who talk about vaccinating their children for society and or for those children who are to young to get vaccinations have gone and gotten their vaccinations. Many childhood vaccinations can wear off not to mention unless you have gone recently and updated your vaccinations as an adult you NEVER had these vaccinations and YOU can spread it. If we do not go back and vaccinate ALL Adults with these new vaccinations we are not effectively addressing disease. After putting my child on an alternative vac schedule my husband and I (and recommeded to all friends and family) went and got our vaccines (7 OUCH!). So parents who vaccinate their kids and not themselves are being hypocritical. Maybe that is not fair for me to say….I really do not think people know this.

angie June 26, 2009, 10:14 PM

I for one opt to not vaccinate my son after doing plenty of research. I have ms which is an autoimmune disease and with the preservatives etc. in those shots that would make my sone 8 times more likely to also get an autoimmune disease. Every parent has their reasons for what they feel is best for their children and I believe I have made the right decision in the long run…. I pray everyday that I have made the right decision.

mercaties June 28, 2009, 4:45 AM

In my childs school district you can not even enroll in public school unless you’ve had all the required vaccines. If you choose not to vaccinate your child you have to have a physical every six months and have this huge health packet filled out every year. I just think a-lot of mothers are being stubborn and wanting to do things different. Personally, I’d mutch rather have my child get sick for a few days then potentially catch a deadly virus especially with so many people being here from other countries where their children aren’t vaccinated why on earth would you take that chance with your child. A good friend of mine was one of those anti vaccine mom’s and her three year old caught Hepp B and he almost died from it, they still don’t know how or where he contracted it. I just don’t see how any mom is willing to take that risk.

mercaties June 28, 2009, 4:46 AM

In my childs school district you can not even enroll in public school unless you’ve had all the required vaccines. If you choose not to vaccinate your child you have to have a physical every six months and have this huge health packet filled out every year. I just think a-lot of mothers are being stubborn and wanting to do things different. Personally, I’d mutch rather have my child get sick for a few days then potentially catch a deadly virus especially with so many people being here from other countries where their children aren’t vaccinated why on earth would you take that chance with your child. A good friend of mine was one of those anti vaccine mom’s and her three year old caught Hepp B and he almost died from it, they still don’t know how or where he contracted it. I just don’t see how any mom is willing to take that risk.

mercaties June 28, 2009, 4:46 AM

In my childs school district you can not even enroll in public school unless you’ve had all the required vaccines. If you choose not to vaccinate your child you have to have a physical every six months and have this huge health packet filled out every year. I just think a-lot of mothers are being stubborn and wanting to do things different. Personally, I’d mutch rather have my child get sick for a few days then potentially catch a deadly virus especially with so many people being here from other countries where their children aren’t vaccinated why on earth would you take that chance with your child. A good friend of mine was one of those anti vaccine mom’s and her three year old caught Hepp B and he almost died from it, they still don’t know how or where he contracted it. I just don’t see how any mom is willing to take that risk.

concerned mom June 28, 2009, 12:43 PM

I have opted for my child to receive only 2 separate vaccines a month. And i have my reasons..not only the research on Autism and the moms speaking out..but also that my son breaks out easily and is prone to fevers. It IS our choice as a mother. Not as a society. We are not all the same in our society. And we mothers know our child more than anyone else. I have had so much criticism from Kaiser doctors as well as friends that are mommies. But with prayer, research and collaboration with my husband..we are making the best decision for OUR child. A personal decision. And we have been treated like bad parents…and been called bad parent by a doctor! Ridiculous. We are still vaccinating our child but at a slower pace. I agree with one of the mom’s that said..if a child can react to a food..then why not consider the fact that they can have a very bad and LIFE CHANGING reaction from the high number of vaccines that are required each dr’s visit? Autism is not something to brush off or compare to measles…it is life changing. And the parents that are on television, marching, going to congress begging for a change..are just standing up for their children…and they have a life experience to prove that vaccinations result in a permanent change to your child. As a good doctor would say..of which we have now…outside of Kaiser…”It is the parent’s choice of what their child needs, they know their child.”

Kate August 15, 2010, 4:41 AM

Of course it’s our individual decision as parents, but it’s also a decision we need to make while keeping in mind our responsibilities to the rest of our community.

I’ve been home in quarantine for nine days because my fully immunised daughter has the mumps, which she contracted from an unimmunised child at her childcare. The decision made by this child’s parents has directly affected my child (and my finances - two weeks without pay is no joke). Immunisation in itself doesn’t prevent anyone from catching disease, it just reduces the likelihood of infection - so even our immunised children are only safe if overall immunisation levels are high.

Please don’t rely on the ‘rest of us’ keeping your children safe from disease. Besides being an anti-social course of action, if the anti-immunisation movement continues to gather momentum, we won’t be able to keep your child safe anymore - we won’t even be able to protect our own.

@ concerned mom: I think breaking your child’s shots into single dose seems like a reasonable way to manage perceived risk, epecially if discussed with yr GP. Also, writing as aunt to two kids with autism, and parent to a child with anaphylaxis, I think perhaps you’re attempting to control the uncontrollable. I believe that if your child is going to develop autism, or an adverse response to food, catch hep B or tetnus - the tragic reality is that they probably will, regardless of the additional steps you take to try to protect them. I did everything known to man to prevent my daughter from inheriting my food sensitivities, with no sucess. Taking sensible precautions and following mainstream medical advice (which is backed up by the maximum amount of research) is as good as it gets in terms of parenting. I really do believe that any other course of action causes a lot of stress and anxiety with very little return for one’s effort - and the very real possibility of actually putting your child at increased risk.

@ irritated: getting adults immunised sounds extremely sensible to me, especially for people who have decided against immunisation for their child - I’ve heard that most babies catch whooping cough from their mothers.

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