Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Vaccine Compromise

I admit that when River was first born, I didn’t think too much about the vaccines. Despite the controversy, I figured I’d gone through the schedule just fine and I expected we’d follow the recommended guidelines. So we did the Hep B shot at birth. And we did the 2-month-old series.

To my surprise, the day he got the five shots at two months old was the worst day of his life so far. At the time of the shots, his cries mixed with fear, shock and surprise as he was priced not once, but again and again and again, as if to ask, how could you do this to me? That afternoon, he cried inconsolably. Even a pediatric nurse who was helping us out was unable to settle him. He needed infant Tylenol, but lots of love and soothing. At that point, I began to research vaccines.

I found most of the information I found online to be biased somehow. The anti-vaccine people seem to like to scare parents. And the pro-vaccine people like to scare parents the other way.

I found The Vaccine Book, by Dr. Sears, to be a pretty balanced account. I appreciated the great detail it went into on each vaccine. And I appreciated that different schedules were provided based on parent’s concern.

Based on my readings and discussions I had with researchers at the University of North Carolina, I felt that the risk most likely didn’t come from any particular vaccine, but from putting so many vaccines at once into such an immature immune system.

Given that my husband is strongly pro-vaccine, that I travel a lot and therefore have more exposure to various illnesses (and wanted to be able to bring River with me) and that I had concerns about the number of vaccines given, this is the compromise agreement we reached·:

  • We give only vaccine at a time, spaced out in the time before the next round begins. We did them one at a time so I could see which ones bothered him. If time, distance or the co-pays were an issue, I’d do two at a time, with no more than one live virus given at once. But since we live ear the doctors, have the time, and can afford the $15 co-pay, we’ll stay with one at a time as long as it’s practical.
  • We give two doses of infant vitamin C (I originally bought it at Whole Foods, but found it cheaper at http://www.vitacost.com/) on the day before, the day of, and the day after a vaccine.
  • River receives breastmilk prior to and immediately after receiving a vaccine.

Some say that getting so many shots individually increases the amount the baby
cries overall. This hasn’t been true for us. He receives some shots without crying at all. For others he cries a matter of seconds. I think the heavy crying at his two month shots was due not so much to the pain, but to the surprise that we’d allow him to be hurt again and again.

Every family will come up with the plan that works for them. For us, this plan has provided a good balance between protection from disease and minimizing the risks of vaccines.

1 comment:

Lainey Wright said...

wow! -what horror at watching your baby be tortured over and over with those damned needles! -that sounds terrible! -i hadn't even thought that far ahead, but i am guessing I will likely follow in your stead and try a similar middle-ground routine. Tough choices...