Navigating the Information

Baby funnyAs a parent I want to do my best, but I am faced with a variety of passionate voices trying to guide me in the medical decisions I need to make to protect the health of my babies and children. This is especially confusing to navigate as a first time parent when there are all sorts of people trying to give me advice.

Some of the voices we encounter while trying to get more information on vaccines and other medical decisions for our precious babies are sooooo passionate and sooooo strong that we can feel completely overwhelmed and sometimes repulsed! With such great energy, sometimes the very thing these passionate people are trying to tell us, becomes repulsive to us.

There can be family members, doctors, nurses, and friends absolutely confident that I should give my baby every shot offered, and if I don’t, my baby might be at a huge risk for a life threatening disease. I often feel terrified after speaking to some of these people.

Then there are others who are strongly urging me not to give any vaccines and some of them go into great detail explaining how vaccines have damaged their child. Others try to persuade me because they claim their baby died as a result of one or more vaccines and can be extremely passionate in telling me I MUST PROTECT MY BABY.

What am I, as a parent, without medical training, supposed to do? How can I do the research to help me make this critical decision?

AngerThere are compelling voices arguing both sides and I feel torn. I can’t sleep because the opposing voices are going around and around in my head and I can’t figure out which is my safest option. If I vaccinate and my child is injured, I will be devastated. If I don’t vaccinate and my child catches one of the ‘preventable’ illnesses I will be devastated AND all the people who told me not to do one or the other is bound to jump all over me. It seems I can’t make a decision based on facts. Why can’t someone just reassure me of WHAT REALLY IS THE BEST THING FOR MY BABY?

Many wise parents have begun this journey and have insight and help to guide us. I have gleaned a lot from experienced, thinking parents and professionals.

Firstly, don’t think the decision can be made quickly, allow yourself some time to do some reading, and if you are a praying person, you might want to ask for guidance.

Secondly, look at each disease separately and look at the current risk of catching the disease in the area where you live versus the risks associated with the vaccine. You also want to find out about treatment options if your child were to catch a particular disease.

For instance, if your child were to get measles and you knew in advance about the benefits of a quickly administered Vitamin A supplement, your baby’s illness will be considerably less severe. Or you might have heard about pertussis, but by investigating the very effective Vitamin C protocol which reduces the severity and duration of a pertussis infection, you will have the information you need to truly compare the risks. This is the essence of informed consent – knowing the true risks of all procedures and the true benefits.

You need to weigh the potential of harm with the disease and treatment with the potential for harm from the vaccine, i.e. risks vs benefits.

In order to determine the risk of the vaccine you will need to find the name of the vaccine and read the manufacturer’s information on the vaccine. The CDC provides “information sheets” free of charge which are usually given to parents by their doctors. These are only a brief summary and do not give you all the information you need to evaluate the safety. What you really need to be fully informed, are the vaccine inserts provided by the manufacturer of the vaccine which includes a lot more VERY RELEVANT information.

What you particularly want to know is what are the ingredients in the vaccine? What are the side effects of each ingredient? What are the contra-indications for this vaccines (i.e. who should NOT be given this shot)? What are the known side effects of the vaccine?

Dr Meyer Eisenstein has written an excellent up to date book examining all the vaccines, the illnesses and the debate around the vaccine issue. I would highly recommend Don’t Vaccinate! Before You Educate. Dr Robert Sears has written The Vaccine Book which can also help you through this process.

Start your research with the first vaccines suggested for babies and the illnesses that you feel most concerned about and work through them all.

The current recommended shots for newborns in the USA are:

  1. Vitamin K
  2. Hepatitis B (1st of 3 doses).

At 2 months it is recommended that babies be vaccinated with:

  1. Hep B (2nd of 3 doses)
  2. Rotavirus (RV, 1st of 3 oral doses)
  3. Diptheria, Tetanus, & acellular Pertussis (DTaP, 3 different antigens, 1st of 4 doses)
  4. Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib, 1st of 3 or 4 doses)
  5. Pneumococcal conjugate (PVC13, 13 different antigens, 1st of 4 doses)
  6. Inactivated poliovirus (IPV, 1st of 3 doses)

That is a total of 6 vaccines (5 needles) with 20 different antigens.

At 4 months it is recommended that your baby gets a repeat of all of the above, except Hep B for a total of 5 vaccines (4 needles) with 19 different antigens.

At 6 months there is a little flexibility, but your baby could get a repeat of all the vaccines given at 2 months. A total of 6 vaccines (5 needles) with 20 different antigens.

So, to re-cap, between 0 and 6 months a cumulative total of 16 needles with 60 antigens is delivered to most babies. Most parents are not aware of how many shots nor what they contain. Many doctors are not even familiar with the ingredients in the vaccines and the possible ill effects to be aware of, yet they confidently assert that they are all safe. The combination of all these shots has never been tested.

At 12 or 15 months your baby could be given:

  1. Hep B (3rd dose)
  2. DTaP (3 antigens, 4th dose)
  3. Hib (4th dose)
  4. PVC13 (13 antigens, 4th dose)
  5. Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR, 3 antigens, 1st of 2 doses)
  6. Varicella for Chicken Pox (VAR, 1st of 2 doses)
  7. Hepatitis A (HepA, 1st of 2 doses)

A total of 7 vaccines (7 needles) with 23 different antigens. Combined with our running total, that equals 23 needles with 83 antigens against 12 different infections.

Some doctors may recommend a 12 month visit and a 15 month visit to space out the large number of shots. Some doctors want you to come for a 15 month and an 18 month visit. Some doctors, wanting to spare you the inconvenience, offer to give all the shots at one visit.

Between 4 to 6 years children are recommended to get repeat boosters for

  1. DTaP (5th dose)
  2. Polio (4th dose)
  3. MMR (2nd dose)
  4. Varicella (2nd dose)

A total of 4 vaccines (4 needles) with 8 different antigens.

In addition to all these shots, children are also recommended to get an annual flu shot from the age of 6 months. Each flu shot contains approximately 3 antigens, and may also contain significant amounts of mercury in the form of thimerosal.

In total, by the time your child goes to school they will have received 32 vaccines (32 needles) with over 100 different antigens. These injections bombard the immature immune system which is expected to recognize and mount a specific defense against each one. (To download the chart of CDC complete recommended vaccination schedule).

Some questions you might want to ask your doctor or any older people who are advising you to give your baby all the shots on the schedule on time;

  1. Why have there been so many vaccinations added since I was a child?
  2. What were the results of studies looking at the combined impact of all of these vaccines injected at the same visit? (to date there have been no studies on the combined cumulative impact of all these vaccines).
  3. If my baby has a serious reaction, who is responsible? How will I get medical care if it is needed?
  4. What signs should I be aware of after a vaccine that might suggest a bad reaction?
  5. How have doctors been trained to recognize vaccine reactions?

One reason this information is overwhelming is because most of us got shots when we were kids. We think the shots they want to give our babies is pretty much the same as what we had. We are not familiar with the current recommended schedule. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the schedule, with each disease, the risks of having the disease, versus the risk of the vaccine.

An additional factor to consider is that there have been no studies on the carcinogenic impact of most vaccines – i.e. is there a likelihood that this vaccine, or this combination of vaccines could increase childhood cancer rates? It has not been studied.

Additionally, vaccines have not been studied to determine if they will impact the future fertility of your child.

Hopefully this short summary has been helpful for you as you seek to navigate the maze of information to you on the BEST way to keep your baby safe and healthy.

I know new parents need lots of sleep. They don’t need to be losing sleep because of fear about vaccinations. As you gain information on this subject, you will be able to make a confident decision so you can sleep peacefully at night!

Please post any questions below or I can suggest some very nice, helpful, and informed advisors who would love to spend time with you and answer your questions. Becky

30 ways in 30 Days, Exploring Vaccines: Day 23