Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Vaccine Book

As a new mom, I've enjoyed reading and researching just about everything concerning my baby: feeding, playing, sleeping and of course, vaccinations. For a while I was scared and frustrated with the information I found about vaccines. What prompted my research was hearing anecdotal stories about parents whose children had bad reactions from vaccines as well as the possible link between autism and vaccinations. I began searching the internet and quickly became terrified of vaccines, I found sites claiming that vaccines cause SIDS and reading posts from parents writing, "After receiving the MMR, my happy social little boy was NEVER the same." As Parks two month check up was approaching I became so nervous about what I should do. I worried about how I could ever forgive myself if I allowed him to get a vaccine that harmed him. Then I would worry about the guilt of him getting sick with a disease I could have prevented from vaccination. It was so hard for me to deal with and eventually I felt the Lord tell me that He is the one who protects Parks and holds his little life in His hands. I was driving in my car and after I felt the Holy Spirit tell me that I just prayed that God would release the fear and that he would help me make the right decision for Parks.

The next day, as I was blog-stalking I read a post from this young mom about The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears. She said she was doing an alternative vaccination schedule with her boys and she found the book very helpful. I went out to Barnes and Noble and bought the book immediately and devoured it in one night...the night before Parks' doctor appointment. I was so relieved and honestly felt like God lead me to this book just in time. The book gives a comprehensive, non-biased presentation of the facts about vaccines, including: What the diseases are, how common and serious they are, the ingredients of the vaccines, which ingredients are controversial and why and options a parent has in terms of receiving and spacing the vaccines.

Finally, a book that gave me the facts without trying to scare me! I went into the doctor's appointment the next day with a level head and confident that I had all the facts and information to back up my decision to do an alternative schedule.

So, enough of the background...here are a couple highlights of what I learned and now feel passionately about:

-The American Academy of Pediatrics's vaccination schedule, in MY opinion, is way overboard. They prescribe five and even SIX immunizations (at the six month visit) in ONE visit for infants. Let's just consider common sense for a moment. Might it be that infants and children are having reactions to the vaccines because they are receiving a large vaccine cocktail instead of letting their little systems process one or two at a time?? Dr. Sears says this argument makes perfect sense in his book and that is why he advocates an alternative schedule.

-As a parent, you have a lot more choices regarding immunizations than you may realize. We are our baby's advocates! The Vaccine Book gives you tons of options for vaccines, including which brands you may want based on ingredients and separating shots instead of doing "convenience combo shots" like the MMR that has a higher risk of adverse reactions. You can get single M, M and R vaccines to reduce the risk of theoretical reactions.

-The most controversial ingredient in vaccines is aluminum (there are others such as formaldehyde, mercury, cow tissue extract, monkey kidney cells, chicken embryos, human fetal lung cells...yikes!). Probably the most disturbing fact I learned from the book is that there have been NO studies to determine how much aluminum is safe in an infants system. There was one study on premature babies that concluded that a their system could only handle 10 to 20 micrograms of aluminum before it became toxic. Based on that study, the FDA concluded that a twelve pound, two month old baby can safely get 30 micrograms of aluminum in one day. Are you ready for the shocker? If a baby is on the AAP vaccination schedule they are likely to get approximately 1225 micrograms of aluminum in one day at their 2 month visit. All this information is in the book on pages 197-199. Shocking isn't it? Why aren't more people up in arms over this?

-The Alternative Schedule that I'm doing only has Parks get two immunizations at one time, and only one containing aluminum, to minimize the amount going into his system. They are also spaced a month apart to allow his system to fully process each immunization. This schedule is burdensome to some because it means going to the doctor every month for shot-only visits. It also means more co-pays. But to me, this small sacrifice was worth it. I have peace of mind about letting Parks get his vaccinations and I think it is a healthy compromise. He will still be vaccinated, just on a different schedule.

Here is the schedule for those that are interested:

2 Months: DTap, Rotavirus (we aren't even doing this one)
3 Months: PC, HIB
4 Months: DTap, Rotavirus
5 Months: PC, HIB
6 Months: DTap, Rotavirus
7 Months: PC, HIB
9 Months: Polio, Flu (i dont think we will do that either)
12 Months: Mumps, Polio

It goes on to 13 years, but I just posted the infant schedule.

So here's the bottom line. I personally feel that the Alternative Vaccination schedule is the safest way to vaccinate my baby and minimize the risk of negative side effects. As a parent, I feel it is my responsibility to advocate for my baby and do what I believe is best for him. This post is not intended to make anyone feel bad if they haven't done this. Many, many children are perfectly fine on the AAP schedule and never experience any negative side effects (me included!). However, I do think it is good for parents to know they have options and are not at the mercy of the big, bad AAP should they disagree! If you have any questions or concerns about vaccinations and want to know more, I cannot recommend the Vaccine Book enough. Do yourself a favor and buy it!

13 comments:

THE DARLSON'S said...

Hey Cousin,

Addie is on the exact same alternative schedule from the vaccine book.
I love it because she will be vaccinated but also we are being careful with her fragile little body. Good choice!

Meghan

joan said...

i'm totally with you on not getting the rotavirus vaccine. so what if your baby gets some diarrhea? all you need is some pedialyte. no prob. :) it's not worth the risks that are associated with that vaccine, which i'm sure you read about.

but i must ask, why not the flu vaccine?

and i'm SOOOO glad you're not going the no vaccines route. that is just downright dangerous for both parks and for other babies and children he's ever in contact with. especially when the autism link has not really been established whereas the complications of diseases like measles, polio, etc. are a definite possibility.

p.s. i miss you guys!

Mallory said...

Hi Joan!

We miss you too! Responding to your question about the flu vaccine: My default position with this whole issue is the less the better. Now obviously, I have chosen to have Parks vaccinated against serious, life-threatening diseases. The flu, in my experience, is not typically life-threatening. I know there can be complications such as pneumonia, but it's rare. I know that I've had the flu at different points in my childhood and it stinks for a week and then you get better. I've never received a flu shot in my life and I've been fine, and actually haven't had the flu since early middle-school. I appreciate the new discoveries being made in the medical field to help save lives, but I'm not ok with adding more and more immunizations every year just because doctor's have found one more immunization for a rather common ailment. I may change my mind about this as Parks gets older, but right now I don't think I will do it.

Anonymous said...

Fully appreciate your decision to vacciate on a schedule as per the book.. However - why skip something so common as rotvirus which (in Australia) is a 'drop on the tounge' oral vaccine. It is also (when not vaccinated against)the most common cause of toddler admissions to hospital... I spent NYE in a hospital with a friend of mine and her 3 year old son as he had to get IV fluids in hospital as a result of rotovirus.

Mallory said...

Anonymous: Thanks for your comment. As I said to Joan, my default position is the less the better. Choosing to give my child a vaccination is more a cautious exception rather than my general m.o. So something like rotavirus which is just a bad stomach bug is not, in my mind, something serious enough to risk a vaccine reaction. Some of the serious side effects of the rotavirus vaccine are seizures and intussusception. Rotavirus is most serious during the first year of life and is most common in formula fed babies who are in daycare, which my baby is neither. For me, I'm willing to take the small risk that my baby might get rotavirus and need fluids rather than give him a vaccine full of strange ingredients and chemicals like monkey kidney cells, fetal cow blood and polysorbate 80 (those are the real ingredients i did not make that up) for a virus he probably won't catch.

Jaime said...

This is all too much for pregnant girl to process. I'm so glad you have done the homework siesta. You know me, I'm all about the holistic approach.

Poor Grace was blasted with the routine shots AND ended up getting rota virus which landed her in the hospital overnight with dehydration. I guess I need to get back in the game and reexamine what I should do with John Hawken. I did opt out of the vaccine that guards against an STD (don't remember which one). Anyways, well done, siesta! I'm impressed with your mommy rock star ways.

joan said...

again, i'm with you on the rotavirus vaccine. rotavirus is harmless. it would only cause a serious problem if you had no access to IV fluids. an IV drip, in my opinion, is a much better alternative to the possibility of intussusception.

and you're right about the flu too. my only concern was that the flu is more likely to cause problems at the extremes of life - the very young and the very old. and it is possible to get pneumonia, which can be dangerous in little ones. but you're right in that a lot of people go without flu shots and are perfectly fine.

i'm so amazed at how much research you've put into this! when i have a baby (in like 30 years. haha) i'll definitely have to chat with you on all the nuances of mommyhood. :)

christa said...

Less is more! thanks for sharing your insight and research. I had an allergic reaction as a baby which resulted in seizures but the original doc didn't diagnose it properly and prescribed strong barbiturates that would have numbed my brain. My dad had to 'go over his head' (which is not looked upon well in the army...) and get a second opinion. Thank goodness he did or I would be in bad shape!

Mallory said...

Joan- I agree with you about the extreme stages of life. I'd like to see what my pediatrician says about the flu vaccine when that time rolls around. He is has a very moderate approach to vaccinations that resonates well with me. I might end up getting it, we'll see. I've loved reading your comments!

Jaime- I'm glad you brought that up about Grace. The vaccines aren't even 100% effective, you can get the rotavirus immunization and still get it!

Christa- That is scary! Good thing you dad didn't accept that doctor's prescription. What is scary as well is that the doctors are reluctant to admit that the vaccines can cause serious reactions and when one does happen they often write it off as something else because of pressure from the AAP and pharmaceutical companies.

Anonymous said...

I am 100% all for the less is more approach (even as a RN)- just a thought to consider - as we protect our children from the OBVIOUS potential harms NOW, in 20 years we may find out that in fact things were thought were harmless were the real culprits in the first place! In our fallen world there is inevitably going to be pain, illness, suffering and inexplicable sorrows (like autism)....But it is in a spirit of Trust and Faith we continue to do our best to avoid what we know is harmful, while praying for the best for our children. There is no way we will ever be able to remove all the danger from this world. (Unfortunately)

PS - on the Aluminum in vaccines --- you will probably get more aluminum out of using antiperspirant deodorant in your life than what is in childhood vaccines....I know you can choose your deodorant as an adult, and you want to choose the best thing for your child while he is still under your care, but there is a good chance someday he'll use antiperspirant deodorant too. :) (Unless research and technology voids the need for it)

esther lee said...

Mallory,

Just recently, I stumbled across your blog through Kristin's blog.

I really enjoyed reading this and am going to recommend the book to my sister-in-law who just had her first baby four weeks ago on Sunday!

I really appreciate your willingness to think outside the box as far as western medicine goes. I, too, grew up without flu vaccines or anything else that wasn't absolutely necessary and have been really healthy. I believe a lot of the things like the flu are actually preventable but in our day and age, people are so 'on-the-go' and inattentive to basic nutrition and health needs that vaccines end up becoming the go to 'solution.'

Esther

Mallory said...

Anonymous- Thanks for your comment. I completely agree that we can't always protect our children from the danger and heartache that are inherent in this world. About the deodorant use, I'm sure that over an adult's lifetime the amount of aluminum can add up, but I'm pretty sure you can't compare that to an injection of aluminum in an infant in one day. Especially when the amount of aluminum in the vaccines far exceeds what the FDA has determined is safe for an infant.

Esther- Thanks for your comment! I'm so glad you are going to tell your sister-in-law about this book. I think it's always good to know about your options no matter which side you eventually fall on, hopefully it will help her. I love your blogs!

reshon30 said...

I am so glad to have found your blog! I was in a healthy grocery store we frequently shop at when i saw a book on vaccines. Needless to say, i was horrified at the things i read and honestly had already known that vaccines were full of "stuff" no one wanted in their bodies much less their babies!! I have a soon to be 3 month old and would be the first child i have decided to space out his shots. I am going to probably go buy Dr. Sear's book tomorrow as i am interested in this alternative schedule. Before i even looked into it, i had already had his ped to give him only 2 shots and i have to go back for two more and i will do the last one later. He did receive the one you chose not to give, but that was before i knew anything. I am just praying on it all! I also believe that God is in control of everything and i lean on him for all things. I really enjoyed reading your input. Thanks so much and God Bless you and your family!