To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?
|Image from Keeper of the Home|
This question has been one I've been asking since before we had kids. I first began thinking about this when I picked up the book A Shot in the Dark, which discusses the possible link between the "P" (Pertussis) in the DPT vaccine and SIDS as well as other neurological issues. Thankfully, the P component has been altered, and now the vaccine is DTaP. (So, moms, breathe a sigh of relief.)
Still, this has been an issue heavy on my heart. There's no easy solution to it. So I'll just tell you right now that I'm not going to give you a solution. My husband and I have come up with a solution that we think works for our family at this point in life, but I'm not going to share that with you. I'm sorry.
I was anxious during pregnancy about vaccines and unsure what we would do for Lilleigh. After reading that book, I was sure I would not vaccinate. But then I talked to my uncle, who was a pediatrician, about all this, and he convinced me that vaccinations were completely necessary and definitely something I should do. Talking to a pediatrician in my family, who I know has my - and my daughter's - best interest at heart, really made me feel more comfortable with the idea of vaccinating. Still, he didn't tell me anything new. His words just seemed more reassuring to me. I want to trust him because he's family and he practices medicine!
I have heard all of the arguments for vaccinations. And I had heard some of them against vaccinations. What I wanted was a non-biased opinion. So in January, I had a friend come talk to a group of moms about them. This friend is the mother of a 2-year-old, a pediatric nurse practitioner, and married to a pediatrician. She spoke honestly about her confidence and her worries with specific vaccines. She shared about the vaccines they skipped or delayed. (Yes, a pediatrician actually skipped giving his child some vaccinations!) After hearing her, I really felt more comfortable with getting Lilleigh vaccinated. Even though there were ones they chose to skip, none of the vaccines seemed to pose much of a risk at all. And some of the diseases they protect against can be terrible and even fatal. I was fully convinced after this that vaccinations were the way to go.
Then recently we've become much more interested in natural living - more organic foods, raising chickens (farm fresh eggs), recycling, cloth diapering, etc. And one of the blogs I subscribe to made me question what I had already decided. Read her posts: one and two. (And that post led me to this one... and two.)
And those blog posts made me want to research more. (I am a researcher. It's a gift, I suppose.) So I read these two books: Educated Decision and The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. The first is based in homeopathy. I found the case studies really interesting.
However, personally I think I found the second book to be more helpful. I appreciated how Dr Sears talked about the vaccine itself, why we use it, the disease it prevents, how common that disease is and the likelihood of catching it. He also discussing what ingredients are in the vaccines, why some parents choose to skip the particular vaccine, why the vaccine is recommended, and then in a nutshell his perspective. It's well-organized. And it clearly shows that this is not an easy issue.
Your child can get sick from a vaccine. (Even hard-core vaccine doctors will admit this if pressed.) But your child can also get sick if you do not vaccinate. Agh! Why can't this be an easy decision?! As a friend told me a couple years ago - You have to decide which consequence you can live with because your child can get sick either way. I know that's reassuring, but I did think that was a good point. The ore I have learned on the issue, the more I have been able to understand different parents' decisions concerning this. I know some that get every vaccinations on time; some that choose not to get any; and some that spread them out, one per month; and still some that pick and choose. Each is just trying to do the best they can for their child.
Where I have finally landed is this: We have to make the best decisions we can as parents with the knowledge we have. For me to not research this issue would have been ignorant. It's a hot topic. There's a lot of information being thrown at us, so I knew I needed to sort through it all myself. With the knowledge I have gained and a prayerful heart, my husband and I decided what we feel is best for our daughter at this point in time. That may change next year, and we realize this. We have done our best at parents, and now we have to trust the Lord - trust that He led us to our decision and that He is in control even if we are thrown a curve ball. Lilleigh is ultimately His - our job with her, just as with anything else, is to be good stewards with what the Lord has given us. I am just privileged to get to love on her now. No matter what happens, God is ultimately the one in control, and He is sovereign.
So what did we decide? Like I said, I'm not saying here. This is such a hot topic among moms. It's sorta like mommy politics. For some reason, it's taboo. I would love to talk with you privately about it if you are interested, but since this is such a controversial topic, I don't want to open up the comments section in this blog post to brim stone and fire. But wherever you are on the issue, I completely respect your stance. If you haven't researched this topic, I would encourage you to do so, simply so you have solid evidence to base your decision. And then, make a decision, trust in the Lord, and don't doubt yourself or God. Life's too short to be second-guessing.