Give my daughter the shot!

            There is a growing trend in the U.S. not to vaccinate children.  Despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends vaccination, despite the facts of the vast majority of reputable studies endorse the practice, and despite the fact that the diseases we are immunizing against are hideous, people righteously proclaim that they would never do anything so awful as to vaccinate their children.

            Well, dudes, here’s my question to you.  If vaccinations are so terrible (for whatever scientifically unsound reasons you with your vast medical training have come up with), why are you comfortable letting my kids take all the risk for yours?  Because, you see, you have a luxury.  You get to raise your kids in the herd immunity that the rest of us provide by actually vaccinating.  While people in third world countries clamor for vaccines, you get to sit back and say, “No thanks.  I’ll just let her kids do it for me.”

            Way to be part of the community.

            Are vaccines perfectly safe?  Um, no.  Any doctor will tell you there are some rare side effects.  But, let me ask you this: what exactly is it you do in your life that IS perfectly safe?  Driving a car?  Teaching your kid to ride a bike?  Allowing your precious vessel to eat fruits and vegetables that were grown near dirt and might choke her and could have had a fly land on them?  Everything we do has risks, peeps.  That’s the way life is in this day and age.  Vaccines do, too, which is why the doctors tell you to monitor closely after the shots.  But, um, rubella has a few more risks than the MMR.

            So, if you are sitting back and smugly pronouncing how you do not vaccinate, you are really riding on my kids’ coattails.  And you are putting your kid, tiny babies, and immune-suppressed people at some serious risk.  But don’t let that bother you.  You have a soapbox to tend to.

            And, for the record, the chicken pox vaccine is not perfect, you are right.  However, when it does work (the vast majority of the time), it keeps you from getting chicken pox.  So what? you ask.  Well, if you never get chicken pox, you can never get shingles later in life.  And shingles sucks in a big way.

            And, while I am on my soapbox, let me say a few words about “spacing it out,” which many people do to ensure their kids have to see the pediatrician every month for the first five years.  I think it is just ducky that your insurance or pocketbook allows you to do that.  That costs your insurance more, of course.  A cost they will eventually pass along to the employers who are already struggling to provide health insurance.  Which will make it even more tempting for employers to stop providing insurance.  Or more expensive for private individuals to pay for it.  Because, when you drive up medical costs for your insurance company, we all pay for it.  So, go ahead, use medical resources as you see fit, but please don’t bitch about the health care crisis you are so blithely contributing to.

            I trust the doctors I take my kids to.  I trust the medical schools they went to and the scientific studies they read.  And I don’t shop around for a pediatrician who will conform to my idea of what is the best medical treatment, because pretty much every pediatrician I have seen has stuck to the same story.  So, unless they are part of a vast conspiracy, they may actually be basing their advice on, you know, science.

34 responses to “Give my daughter the shot!

  1. Have I mentioned to you recently that I love you!?

    It’s so gratifying that there are people out there who get it.

    Is science perfect? No, of course it isn’t. But life today is a hell of a lot better than it was even 50 years ago. The scientific method has had a profound impact upon the overall quality of life in the world.

    Vaccination is VERY important and has saved countless (in every sense of that word) lives. Thanks for being one of the smart ones!

  2. This is an AWESOME post! I SO totally agree with you.

    My SIL and BIL do not get most of the vaccines for my nephew because they don’t trust them. SIL (who I adore) said to me that she didn’t see the need for a polio vaccine when that’s been basically wiped out. But people still get polio! And what if my nephew grows up and travels to countries where diseases uncommon in this country ARE still present?

    And they did shop pediatricians until they found one who would let them decide which vaccines to give. The kicker – my BIL is a veterinarian, so his “medical training” means he understands these things enough for them to make informed decisions.

    (He hasn’t been a practising vet for over 15 years, so I wouldn’t want him to decide which vaccines my dog should get.)

  3. There’s not much I can add to this other than thank you for reiterating this message. My two kids had all the vaccines on the multiple vaccine schedule and so far, at 6 1/2 and 3 1/2, they are fine. I’m so lackadaisical, I didn’t even request the thimerosol-free shot they have available. And yes, when my daughter is old enough, she’ll have the HPV vaccine.

  4. Thank for saying it. I agree.

  5. Here Here! Good post!

  6. Want to marry you. Thanks, Em.

  7. mm, my kids are vaccinated to be sure. My understanding of the spacing it out technique is that it may benefit kids who are on the smaller side for weight…because they systems process toxins slower – having a smaller liver. When we started to watch LP’s “toxin” intake (and yes, they are part of modern life and all we can do is manage what we can) and try some detoxing things, we saw a very consistent improvement in his sensory issues & he slid right off a path which was heading him towards an autism diagnosis. So, I don’t totally disagree, I just think that autism would have been fairly expensive for our insurer as well – as way more expensive for us long term than increase co-pays & now our only other therapy cost is OT once a week. Now he is 4, so shots don’ t even come our way very often. Which is great, because aside from what is in the shot, he totally reacts to the not so good sensory sensation of the needle!
    In any case, I do hear ya.

  8. When I was growing up a family my parents knew lost a daughter to measles. And I’m terrified of my son getting meningitis, or indeed mumps in later life. So I never really thought twice about it. I figured it was more of a risk to have to strap his cot into the back seat of the car and try to drive without looking backwards to check on him.

  9. Amy made the very point I wanted to raise – your not-immunized kid might travel somewhere, say Eastern Europe, where many of these illnesses are not wiped out. There have not only been cases of infection, but deaths as a result of this.

    And what if they don’t travel there, but another non-immunized child does, a child who is infected and then flies back home where they encounter your kid?

    After all the effort and risk that the medical community has gone through to try to eradicate these dangerous communicable diseases, choosing not to immunize is, in my opinion, a selfish and ignorant thing to do.

  10. My rationale is: if the pediatrician does it to their kids, then I should do the same. They’re not giving advice just for the sake of talking.

  11. Rock on! People have been so weird about vaccines in the past few years. I think a lot of it has to do with people trying to link vaccines to Autism. But may I say, as someone who has a son with Asperger’s, I will always choose to get my children vaccinated. Why would anybody sarrifice their children’s health to justify their beliefs? Craziness…..

  12. But, let me ask you this: what exactly is it you do in your life that IS perfectly safe? Driving a car?

    This is what gets me…you have a greater chance of being injured or dying in a car accident than getting one of the rare side effects of the vaccines…yet people let their kids ride in cars every…single…day.

    And the herd immunity? It is diminishing…soon there won’t be enough to cover those who don’t get a shot.

    As far as traveling? You don’t have to travel. Someone you come into contact with…say…at the grocery or even a child’s family member who is in your kid’s daycare can bring those things to your kids. There have been Measles outbreaks recently because someone went over seas and came back…a lot of babies died because they weren’t even old enough to get the vaccine…but they were exposed.

    About Autism? Well, the one family was proven to have some kind of weird genetic issue that reacted with the vaccine…that is hardly proof. It has been proven, however, that the older the parents, especially the father, has an effect suggesting it is a genetic issue. Therefore the epidemic of Autism may have more to do with more people waiting until they are older to have children than with vaccines…

    Vaccines aren’t 100% effective…but that is…no, was…what herd immunity was for….to protect those who weren’t protected. But…as it stands…it is going to take an true epidemic (and I don’t mean like the “obesity” epidemic) and thousands, if not more, children are going to have to get sick and maybe die to convince some parents to immunize.

    If your child has already had a reaction or a family history…I am not talking to you. You have a valid reason…I am talking to everyone else who chooses not to vaccinate.

  13. As the daughter of a doctor, I say, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Medical professionals aren’t perfect, but they also aren’t evil. The vast majority of them go into the field because (Gasp!) they actually want to help people and see the science of medicine as a gift. They wouldn’t give kids vaccines if they were dangerous.

    As for the link between vaccines and autism, there was a book out recently about the history of vaccines that revealed how the man who did that research altered his results to prove his opinion. I wish I could remember the name of it…

  14. And I thought I was fired up today! But you are right; it’s just another case of irresponsible parenting out there. The only way I would have sympathy is if they actually experienced one of their children having a bad reaction to a vaccine and were concerned about the same effects in the next child.

  15. You rock.

  16. All of this madness started because of Dr Wakefield’s severely flawed research, which has even been rejected by the journal in which it was originally published – The Lancet. It never ceases to amaze me how much misinformation and hysteria has originated from research which is not accepted by 99% of the medical community.

    I had absolutely no hesitation in getting my daughter vaccinated. I had no reason to! I, like you, am frustrated that other parents’ ignorance puts other kids at risk. Measles rates have shot up exponentially within the past ten years, which is appalling.

    Ok, off my soapbox now. Ahem.

  17. To Karen’s point — some kids have bad reactions to shots (like my Zachary). I could see spacing out the shots if you have had that experience. I am referring to the parents who do it for no discernible reason.

  18. It’s a common theme in our country. Those that do, make up for those that don’t. This is nothing new.

    Those that drive cautiously, pay for the careless. Those that eat right and exercise pay dearly for the slovenly. Those that seek income, pay for those that lay around all day perhaps tending to their 32 blogs they’ve got going… And no I’m not implicating anyone here…just sayin. Those that make sound business decisions pay for those that squander in the name of greed.

    Then once we have another epidemic, people will flock to the pediatricians, only to be greeted by a shortage, because companies have cut back production…because half the people just don’t give a damn in the past…

    Unfortunately, it looks as though we’re preaching to the choir…

  19. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My daughter just got her 18-month vaccines and we’ll be heading back to the doctor in October to get a flu shot. In fact, my husband and I will each get a flu shot, too.

    Again, thank you!

  20. Atta girl.

  21. Oh, and btw, that last commenter? He’s a doctor.

  22. Excellent argument. We actually were TOLD by our pediatrician to space vaccinations, but that was because Alexis had an allergic reaction to the cocktail at two months and we needed to figure out which one was causing her to get very high fevers. Once it was isolated, we were able to keep things from getting out of control. I picked our pediatrician because I trust what she says, and know she has the experience to know how vaccinations should be handled. It’s not one-size-fits-all, but I certainly don’t have the knowledge and education to make that decision without a doctor’s input.

  23. Yes, Agree With You, Vaccination Needed But, sometimes cause side effect

  24. Had I never met a child who stopped talking the day after he was vaccinated, and never spoke again, maybe I could agree with you.

    These aren’t just rants of angry parents – it really does happen. I’ve seen it. And maybe it is just coincidence, or maybe we just don’t know yet what is causing the increase in autism.

    But since we don’t know, I’m going to do the best I can to protect my child from every debilitating condition – both polio and autism.

  25. What drives me mad is that these diseases HAVE been wiped out BECAUSE of vaccines. Stop vaccinating and they’ll come back in a big scary way.

  26. I don’t agree with you at all.
    And I tried very hard not to be offended by this post but…I was.
    I would never sit back and condemn someone for vaccinating their children – it’s personal choices.
    And while there are many good reasons TO vaccinate there are also valid reasons NOT to.
    And, for the record, Monkey’s pediatrician has never recommended anything other than the meningitis vaccinations.
    He has his reservations about vaccinations as well. And this is a man who got his degree from Harvard Medical.
    Just sayin’.

  27. I have a serious question: if my kid *is* vaccinated, and yours isn’t, how does that put *my* kid at risk? I’ve heard this argument for vaccines (mine are, and on schedule, in case it matters) but I guess, b/c I have no medical training or background at all, I don’t really understand it.

    Can someone smart explain it to me, please?

  28. Because vaccines aren’t 100% effective. Though they do work for most the population, they don’t always work or sometimes people’s immunity wanes too soon. Everyone is different and the idea is playing on statistics…which is why herd immunity is important. If everyone is vaccinated, it helps protect those for whom the vaccine isn’t as effective…but there is no way to know this.

    It is like driving a car…seatbelts don’t always save lives, but you are banking on a statistic when you use one that it will save yours even though there is a chance it may not work.

  29. Ouch.
    I can appreciate the points you’re making. To invite a conversation around this issue is a GREAT thing. But I’m thinking that most of your readers are pretty intelligent people who..just like you….really do try to make the best decisions for their children in a world where NOTHING is absolute.

    NONE of the docs I know and respect value EVERY vaccine. And all of the docs I know and respect? They value the patients who challenge their thinking, question what they are doing, and advocate for their children and themselves.

    Just because someone is a doctor doesn’t make them infallible. Every good doc would agree with this. This may be where those you disagree with might be coming from. Especially those who live with those who have suffered from the damage that “rarely” occurs as a result of those shots.

    My neighbor has gained significant recognition for his ongoing work: he is striving to identify the DNA markers for Autism, and he and his colleagues have made great strides with this. He is cool with shots….but he is far more balanced in his assertions. Generalizations are rarely helpful. The shots don’t cause Autism. But that doesn’t completely remove them from the equation yet.

    What rattles me about this particular post doesn’t have anything to do with vaccines, though. I guess what rattles me is that your approach here is just a tad judgmental toward those of us who might do things a little differently, you know? I don’t think that was your intention, Emily, but I’m just thinking…maybe those you were hoping to persuade aren’t going to be any more willing to change what they do when you frame your points (which are all incredibly good ones, btw) in this way.

    My kids are vaccinated. But I did space them out, and I did wait until I absolutely had to do it. Did I KNOW that this would prevent anything bad from happening? Hell, no. I just tried to proceed with caution in an uncertain world….and I didn’t give a shit, quite honestly, what that might have COST doctors, drug manufacturers, or insurance agencies in the end. In my opinion, the insurance nightmare in this country needs to be worked out in far more thoughtful ways….I’m not so sure the decisions like whether or not we should vaccinate a child should be motivated by what employers and health insurance agencies and drug manufacturers might do in response. I try to think about keeping my kids as safe as can, using the best information that I have at the time.

    I don’t know if anything I do is right or wrong. I just know that I’m trying my best.

  30. Folks,
    I posted this because I am tired of the anti-vaccine minority speaking up while the rest of us stay quiet in the name of “respecting” their choices. This is giving new parents the impression that all the good parents out there are frightened of vaccines and that, if they want to do right by their kids, they need to believe all the rumors. I respect parents who make a lot of choices that are different from mine, from co-sleeping to home schooling to religious education.

    But, when you make a decision that affects the safety of other people, it is not just your parenting choice anymore. You are putting others at risk.

    I remained quiet for a long time, until I started to see a lot of new parents get freaked out by posts on a parenting listserve and realized that my silence was basically enabling people to spread ideas that I feel are dangerous.

    Do I wish to offend people who I like and respect? No. But there is no use speaking if I don’t speak up on something like this.

    BTW, today when I was getting my flu shot, I discussed with my doctor the adult tetnus/whooping cough vaccine booster, which I can get after the baby is born. If you fear giving vaccines to your kids, perhaps you will be comfortable getting them yourself.

  31. Um, I consider how the decisions I make might effect the safety of my kids. They are people.

    I guess that gets at what hurt a bit–the overwhelming suggestion that those who aren’t comfortable giving vaccines are “bad parents” AND they are hurting others as well.

    I know that you feel strongly about speaking up in this way, and I think it’s important you do so. Your points are all compelling ones, and I don’t even think I’m arguing with you.

    I just feel rather foolish now, that’s all. And a bit judged. But I know that’s my problem.

    Oh, and I’m fully vaccinated. Promise.

  32. Doctors estimate 300 Canadian deaths this year from H1N1, yet we will vaccinate 30,000,000 people for it. Is this really about science or is it about $?