The Great Debate

Where I live, and probably where you live, there is one hot issue right now: vaccinations. It’s big here because so many people do not vaccinate. So there’s measles at Disney, and a case in town from someone who was in that area, and now it is an unavoidable topic of conversation.

I have friends and acquaintances here and across the country who are very pro vaccination. I am part of an online parenting community where many people are loudly anti vaccination. And here we are, with our almost four month old, wading through the waters of parenthood.

We are going to vaccinate Gus. We are going to do so on a delayed schedule and have not started yet. We have not started because at 2 months he was having terrible gas pains and pooping bright green. We chose not to start until his guts were doing a bit better. He will get his first round of vaccinations at his four month visit next month.

We are vaccinating on a delayed schedule. This means by 5, if not before then, he will be fully vaccinated but he will not get 36 shots in 18 months (I think that is what the standard schedule is). He will not get a chickenpox vaccine and I am going to go as long as possible without getting him a flu vaccine.

So those things being said, I really don’t want to get him vaccinated. We are going to because overall I believe it is the right thing to do but I do not think vaccines are safe, well tested, or necessary. I understand herd immunity and that’s plays a role in getting him vaccinated. If we still lived in the midwest where 95% of people vaccinate I would likely make a different decision. Here many children are not so I feel it is more important.

It pulls on my heart to do this. It kills me to give the child who has only had breast milk and an herbal gas drop in his body a vaccine that contains mercury. I do not think vaccines cause autism or believe everything (or anything) that Jenny McCarthy says. I am a mom. I am a mom who wants to do what is best for her child – just like all other moms. I’m doing my researching and weighing risks when figuring out where to start. I am talking to our pediatrician. I am talking to my partner.

And guess what? So is everyone else. My biggest issue about this debate is the assumption that people who don’t vaccinate are stupid. They are not. They are trying to do what is best for their children. And I get it. I understand why they don’t want to and I’m right there with them. We’re going to vaccinate our child but it’s hard and I’m sad about it. I don’t know if it gets easier or if it is this hard for everyone. I don’t know if this is just sometimes what parenting feels like.


Posted on January 27, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. I’m hard core pro vaccination, i think you are doing the right thing! Ali will be fully vaccinated by the end of march, and i’ll be so relieved when it’s done. I think our generation is too far removed from the effects those diseases can have (although not for long, quite a few are on the upswing). For instance, my uncle had the measles when he was about a year, and his fever was so high it ruined his inner ear structures so he is completely deaf. It would kill me if something like that happened to ali and i knew it would have been prevented if i had vaccinated.

    • Yeah, my dad had polio and lost most of the muscle in one leg. I know these things are scary so I’ll do it. Even when you are hard core pro vaccination is it hard to give them to your kid? I just feel like i am letting something hurt him for the greater good and am now crying. Sheesh.

      • My mom had polio and also lost the muscle in one leg. I’ve never met anyone else who’s parent had polio. Polio isn’t cool, but it’s kind of cool to discover this similarity in our families. It’s something no one else I’ve ever met has truly understood.
        I’m very pro-vaccine like the previous commenter. It wasn’t a hard decision to decide to get the vaccines because I’m afraid not to. It is hard to hear him cry, but it’s very short-lived and he has been fine immediately after when I soothe him. He is extra tired and cuddly the rest of the day and then back to normal the following day.

      • That’s crazy your mom had it too! I’m sure it’s not going to be as bad as i fear. I know so many parents who just give babies tylenol after and i’m pretty anti that, too. I think once ww start it we’ll all be okay i just have a hard time stomaching it.

      • I’ve never had to give him anything afterward. The anticipation is worse than the actual shot. It is really quick, he might scream (but if he’s anything like my baby, that is not a totally new sound lol) and then you cuddle him, feed/nurse, and give him TLC the rest of the day. It gets easier with subsequent rounds, I did feel uneasy the first go around, but he was also so tiny and I was having all sorts of emotional/hormonal reactions to things 8 weeks postpartum.

  2. Aww, yeah, the first round is hard. The first round is the only one that made ali sick/fussy for a few days, her last round she didn’t even cry or anything 🙂 usually they will let you leave the room if you can’t watch him get poked

  3. I think the hard part about this for me is how often I hear anti-vaccine folks talk about THEIR choice and THEIR child, while not considering how lowered vaccination rates impact the weakest or sickest people in our society, and their choice might contribute to that. It feels like a selfish choice, to not vaccinate. I think that’s my struggle – to hear about infants who couldn’t vaccinate catching measles, or knowing folks with HIV who are increased risk. That said, I totally hear the struggle and appreciate your post and it’s honesty, a lot.

    • I agree it’s not just their child- or in my case my child. That’s really the deciding factor for me. I’ll report back after the 1st round if it was as terrible as i fear. I’m logically sure it won’t be.

  4. Finding myself pregnant, un-vaccinated (I was, but apparently pregnancy has screwed with my immunity), and unable to be re-vaccinated in the middle of a measles outbreak (I live in Los Angeles), I can only say that I wish more on-the-fence parents thought like you.

  5. Like you, I was very torn about vaccinating Evelyn. But, I did, and I am SO GLAD I did. I did it on a slightly delayed schedule with a heavy heart, but now I am so relieved and happy with my choice.

    • Thanks for this. It really helps to know it’s hardcon other parents. I don’t often see that and it’s nice to know there’s others in this not pro not anti grey area. Most people (not here) are offended i don’t want to even after learning we will.

  6. It’s a personal choice for every parent and no answer is roght or wrong. We are vaccinating our boys mainly because we feel that it’s in their best interest. We want to gove our kids their best chance, and for us, vaccinating will help to do that. It’s great that your researching, talking to your pediatrician and to your partner. That’s the best way.

  7. It’s a complicated issue. We agonized over the decision. Well, DW is neutral on it and would probably prefer to do vaccinations pretty much on schedule because she’s more of a “go with the flow” kind of person, but I seriously agonized (as I’m more of a compulsive
    “question authority” kind of person). Here’s our short version:

    We’re going to do it, not thrilled because I don’t think they’re completely “safe”, we have mostly delayed it thus far, but no, we aren’t Jenny McCarthy conspiracist crackheads.

  8. And the novel behind it:

    R was in the NICU for the first two weeks of life because of a brain bleed (for reasons “unknown”) and the brain seizures caused by that give her an increased risk of seizures for the rest of her life. As far as we know, she hasn’t had a single seizure since we left the NICU and her brain scans look normal. All of that made me a way more paranoid parent than I’d anticipated. She got a few shots at her 2 month well child visit – no deathly reactions, but she was miserable for a couple of days following, starting a few hours after the shots. She didn’t get all of the recommended shots then, because it is crazy to give an 8 week old baby 3 vaccines at once. She might have gotten a dose of one or two vaccines at her 3 month as well, but by her 4 month visit, I just couldn’t. I’d read all the vaccine package inserts by then (had to put in a special request at my ped to get them) and it seemed counterindicative with her previous seizure history, especially before the blood-brain barrier had matured.

    So she hasn’t had any since then and W hasn’t had any at all, for no good reason. Living in the midwest, not using daycare, and having moms who are introverts has keep them somewhat in a bubble. But as they get older and are mixing more with other kids and the public in general, I feel more compelled to start up with their vaccinations. I probably would have started at their two (R) and one (W) year well child visits, except that they were in the middle of an eczema flair-up, which can cause complications. And also I will admit that even without that, I was internally freaking out about R – you know, what if it causes a recurrence of seizures that lead to brain damage or death, how could I live with myself, etc.

    But as they get older, I feel more comfortable about it. I think. I’m not excited about it and have plenty of worries, but it seems like the logical thing for us to get back on track with now. They’ll only get one shot at a time so I can make sure that R especially doesn’t have any reactions (and if she does, that we know which vaccine was the culprit). They won’t get the chicken pox vaccination or rotavirus. We’ll probably skip the guardasil as well, and I don’t think we’ll ever get flu shots.

    • I would be just as nervous if in your shoes. We’re going through each one to evaluate his risk to build a schedule but also want to move slowly. Counterinsicative is totally right. I get it with R but even with no negative health stuff it just seems so strange to give this boy i have to protect something i do not trust for the greater good. I will and it’ll get easier i’m sure but it’s hitting me so much harder than i would have thought.

  9. I intend to do a lot of research about this as well. My gut reaction is to immunise but only with the necessary ones (eg skip chicken pox etc), and do a delayed schedule. We live rurally as well but will be in contact with both vac and unvac kids as there are lots of people in bith camps up here.

  10. I want to say the issue is complicated, but in the same way that climate change is complicated. We (or at least the scientists who have studied the phenomenon for decades) can all agree that climate change is real and happening, but the details are where there is still conflict. Framing climate change as an ongoing debate about whether or not it is actually happening is disingenuous and hurtful – in much the same way as the vaccine “debate” is. So even though there are good questions being asked about the efficacy of some vaccines and the way they are currently administered – especially all in a cluster – I still feel my hackles raise whenever I see it framed as a debate.
    That said, I get that it’s a hard choice and I can only imagine how much harder it gets when it’s your baby and they’re tiny and fragile and squalling. And I get that doctors have unfortunately become very dismissive of any vaccine concerns, legit or not, because of the overall framing of the debate.
    But I am so so glad you did go ahead and vaccinate. As someone who has had immune-compromised friends and family, thank you.

  11. twomamasonebaby

    Not gonna lie, it’s hard to watch him get the shots, but both times he’s done way better than I have and has had zero side-effects. We did give him tylenol after the second set at 4 months (but that was also after the falling out of bed incident and the poor guy was especially cranky). We’re very much pro-vaccine, though, and feel the pros far outweigh the cons, so as hard as it is to let a nurse stick him with needles, I feel it’s worth it ten times over. Plus, I know he won’t remember it!

  12. With Carter I had a very tough time with it but honestly I have even delayed much with Dylan. I don’t k ow what has changed in this time but I’m
    More comfortable with them than without. The shots haven’t even hurt dylan which I think makes it easier.

  13. If it helps, The Lady and more recently, The Dame, literally slept through them. Like, didn’t even wake up. The Lord was fussy about sitting still for the bandaid more than the shots. Same for The Duchess. All of them got the heavy sleepiness and cranky faces after but that’s really any day around here. 😉

  14. If you think the temporary pain of watching him get a shot is bad, imagine how hard it would be to watch him be in pain for days/weeks with an illness that could have been prevented by a few shots. I gladly and proudly vaccinated Alice without any reservations.

  15. Ya know, I’m pro vaccine and didn’t really give it another thought. I know, emotionally, it was still hard to watch her go through that first round of shots. Luckily, we had a nurse who was so fast, I didn’t even see the sticks and Punky was so surprised she didn’t have time to cry. But, with each round, as they get older and have to get shots, and are more vocal about their feelings and thoughts, it gets harder emotionally. In the end, I know I’m doing what’s best for her, in my mind, so we do it. But, I can see why you wouldn’t. I didn’t really research, I went with what our pediatrician said was recommended, I can see why that would be frowned upon. Its just all I knew growing up too. I don’t have anything else to base my decisions on. So, in the end – you have to do what’s right for you guys. If you are sad about vaccinating because you don’t want to put him through the pain and the discomfort, push that aside and push through it, because in the end, it gets better from that end.

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