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!