Friday, March 14, 2014

Vaccines

There has been quite a bit of controversy over the past few years about vaccinations and autism. It had widely been believed for a while that the MMR(measles,mumps,rubella) vaccine was a possible cause for the condition. However, more recent studies have provided evidence stating that this is not true. As parents, we take in all of this information ,process it, and try to make the best decisions we can for our families.

I believe that it is important to vaccinate children. Many lives have been and will continue to be saved because of this practice. However, I do take issue with the number of vaccines that we are giving our children at each visit. Some babies and toddlers may receive 3-4 vaccines at a single office visit, and some of these may be combination vaccines,meaning they contain more than one vaccine per dose.

After we found out that my son Mikey was on the spectrum, we made a decision to hold off on the MMR for our two younger children. My third child had already received one MMR prior to this, so we decided to hold off on the second until he reached school-age. We held off on both MMR vaccines in my youngest until he reached school age as well. We did this because at the time, there was still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the vaccine. While thimerosal was said to be taken out of this particular vaccine after 1999, my trust level in the pharmaceutical companies was not high. We felt that we would wait to see if our children developed at an age-appropriate pace, and then if all was well, we would go ahead and give them the MMR. As for all of the other immunizations that they needed, we simply spaced them out. If a check-up visit required for example, a DTaP,oral polio, HIB or Varivax vaccine, we would allow the two most important, then stop in a month or so later for one more, then again later for the last. We never felt comfortable injecting the kids with so many at once. We were never pressured by our pediatrician to do everything at once. He understood our concerns, and while he encouraged vaccinations, he was okay with waiting a few weeks to receive all that was needed.

This is what worked for our family. I am not here to tell you that you should or should not vaccinate your child. I am neither a doctor nor a scientist,rather I am an educated,concerned parent. Every child is different and has different health concerns. What I will suggest,is that you discuss all concerns with your doctor. Evaluate the information you are given, then make an educated decision. This is especially true of flu vaccines, some of which still contain thimerosal. Ask your doctor the questions you want answered. There are no ridiculous questions when it comes to the health and welfare of your child. If your doctor makes you feel otherwise, then perhaps finding a new one who understands your concerns might be an appropriate action.

We all want to keep our kids healthy. Just remember, always follow your instincts, ask the important questions, then make the important decisions. No-one, including myself, should be making the decisions for your child. That is best left to you and your pediatrician. Stay informed and stay healthy!

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