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Thursday, September 29, 2005

As many times as Toddler in Chief has watched the episode "Blue goes to the Doctor," taking him in for vaccines is about as fun as scraping my knuckles along a cheese grater. Even though his pal Blue got the shot with hardly a whimper, my son screams, sobs, and projects sounds of assorted frequencies. Plus, he's two, and he just doesn't quite grasp the concept "it will hurt, but it's good for you." He can't understand why Mom and Dad hold him down while a stranger in a lab coat jabs him with large needles. It just sucks for everyone.

Yes, there's guilt from letting my kid spend a few minutes in the life of a pin cushion, but imagine the guilt if he ended up in the hospital with a preventable disease, like Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, or Measles. Giving your kid vaccines keeps them healthier. And parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids are taking unnecessary risks with their kid's health, and even their lives.

It's true that many of the diseases that we vaccinate against are rare. For example, there has been no case of Polio in the United States for more than 20 years. Still, it is prevalent in other parts of the world. Currently, there are outbreaks in Yemen and Somalia, and the World Health Organization launched a polio immunization campaign on September 13, to slow its spread.

No, my kid isn't going to Africa or the Middle East anytime in the foreseeable future, but if there is a chance--any chance--that my kid could acquire this or any other debilitating and life-threatening diseases, then I'm going for it. This goes for every possible vaccine, even if it means a few minutes of tears. One can argue that there are risks associated with vaccines and it's just not worth it, especially when the diseases are rare. But I'm not taking any chances.

Just as I slather my kid in sunscreen, use antibacterial soap, and marvel at that surface made from recycled tires that has replaced cement at the playground, I'm grateful for any advances--medical or otherwise--that keep my kid healthy and out of harm's way.

Permalink | Vaccinations | Comments (9)

Inoculations definitely serve a purpose, because tetanus and polio and meningitis are serious diseases that will mess a body up. But keeping to the “recommended” injection schedule by forcing all that serum in such a young little body is ludicrous. If your goal is to bolster your child’s immune system, you might want to wait until s/he actually has one.

When we were looking for a pediatrician, our primary criterion was an open mind toward delaying inoculations as long as possible. We did a lot of research, as all parents should, about the pros and cons of early immunization, and we decided there really wasn’t much of a need to guard against Hep B, for example, since we were reasonably certain our infant son wasn’t sharing drug needles or having unprotected sex.

We were also put off by all the heated controversy over thimerosal and its alleged association with the appalling surge in autism cases over the past ten years. We learned that thimerosal kept costs down by allowing drug companies to sell the vaccines in larger, multiple-dose vials. And now, despite years of preaching its harmlessness, Big Pharma has suddenly decided to start removing thimerosal from most vaccinations. Imagine what other policy shifts might await us.

Our older son has started preschool, so we’re listening to our pediatrician and catching up to where the AAP wants us to be. And were taking our time, because we’d rather keep our sons’ intake of ammonium sulfate, pig blood, rabbit brain, monkey kidney, fetal bovine serum, formaldehyde, monosodium glutamate, antifreeze, and washed sheep red blood cells to a minimum.

Permalink | Vaccinations | Comments (9)