There are surprisingly few parenting decisions that have kept me up at night. Immunizations is one that still does. I am not sure I can handle the weight of the decision. It seems that whichever way I go, I am potentially going to be the worst mother ever. It also seems that there are plenty of people who would confirm that I am the worst mother ever for even thinking about this so carefully and for so long. It is such a touchy topic that I have chosen to be very particular about who I share my struggles with.
On the one hand, I vaccinate her and she becomes autistic. On the other, I don’t vaccinate her and she dies or becomes horribly disabled by disease.
To date Sofia has had one Hep B shot (the day she was born and I didn’t know they were doing it) and she recently had the H1N1 vaccine.
I am not convinced that immunizations cause/trigger autism–it could be the Thimerosol preservative they come in. It could be something else no one is talking about at all. What I do know is that 1)autism cases have increased in correlation with the increase in vaccination schedule and 2)No one can unequivocably say that vaccines/Thimerosol have NO connection to autism and 3) it is not in the interest of pharmaceutical companies to thoroughly check it out either.
I also know that a baby whose mother does not have Hep B has no risk of obtaining the disease. Yet, they are required to get 3 doses in their first year. I know that doctors get paid commissions for the number of vaccines they administer. And I also trust my instinct that 20 shots of living and dead diseases in less than 12 months is probably a bit much for an immune system that has yet to fight off a cold. Lastly, I would not allow my doctor to give me 3 shots in one day, so why would I do it to my kid?
To be clear, I do believe that vaccinations are generally good. I understand that if the world chose not to vaccinate, we’d all be screwed. What I have hesitations about is the timing–I think less than 2 years of age is too young, and I am not on board with the unnecessary administration of vaccines for diseases that my child is at little to no risk of procuring.
I also think that for something so important, parents are sadly uneducated. For instance, vegans would not get a vaccine if they truly understood the process for making them. Also, most of us don’t know that diabetes and asthma show correlations to vaccination practices. There is so much information out there–I have read a ton of it from multiple perspectives. (I highly recommend “What Your doctor May Not Tell You about Children’s Vaccinations” by Dr. Stephanie Cave and Deborah Mitchell.)
Ultimately, like with all things parenting, I think we need to give each other a break on this topic. Whether you religiously follow the vaccine schedule or you are the questioning hippie parent, we are all doing what we think is best for our kids and those decisions have to be made so that we can live with them and hopefully sleep at night.