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Posts tagged ‘Baby’s First Shots’

Guest Mom Susan: Making the Right Choice

Guest blogger Susan Wells is the mom to two girls, ages 5 and 8. She is an active mom who hikes, photographs, crafts, lives green, volunteers and explores with her children. She works as a blogger and social media strategist for Steve Spangler Science, a Colorado company dedicated to helping teachers and parents get children excited about science. Susan is also the City Editor for Savvy Source and blogs at TwoHandsTwoFeet.com.

My oldest daughter was born in 2001 amidst the debate that “vaccinations cause autism.” I felt inundated with many claims and stories about the dangers of vaccinations. I began to question my rock solid beliefs that inoculations are a necessity in childhood.

The sheer number of shots a baby begins to receive at two months and continues through two years is unsettling to any new parent. Top that off with claims that the shots could be toxic and parents have a hard time understanding the right path to take.

The torment that both my daughter and I had to endure at each appointment was draining. Nurses handed me packets of information on devastating diseases along with a pages of possible side effects. I had to agree to let the nurses inject her sweet baby legs with what I hoped to be life saving vaccine and not a toxic mixture that would cause her problems down the road. I had to decide, which was worse, the shot or the chance she would come down with one of the life-threatening diseases.

I chose the shot every time.

Back then I was confused about the safety of vaccinations and outside of my doctor, I wasn’t sure where to turn for accurate information. Now that I have found the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, I have a powerful resource to look to when questions arise about immunizations. I only wish I had a resource like CCIC back in the early days to help me sort it all out.

My daughter had some of the more mild side effects from the injections. She developed large welts where the shots were injected. She had fevers for two days following the shots. The first few injections were tough, but we learned to anticipate and treat the symptoms. I reminded myself over and over that a welt for a week or two was better than a hospital stay and a 101 fever was better than a 104 fever.

The immunizations gave me peace of mind that my baby would stay healthy and protected.

I have done my research and continue to do my research on immunizations. I keep my daughters protected from the potentially life-threatening diseases that are controlled through vaccines.

When H1N1 began making the rounds, I anxiously waited for the vaccine to become available to protect my children. I stayed up on the latest research and news about the safety of the vaccine. I read the CCIC website and I stayed connected to my doctor’s office. And my daughters both received the vaccine when it became available.

Throughout the last decade a lot of misinformation and publicity has surrounded the safety of vaccinations. It has catapulted a trusted and necessary part of childhood into an international debate about the safety of vaccinations.

The claims against vaccinations have led to state legislatures adding provisions that make it easier for parents to opt out of vaccinations on philosophical or religious grounds. With some parents opting out, the occurrence of diseases like measles is on the rise.

Getting your children vaccinated can be a traumatic time for both parent and child, but it is key to keeping your children healthy. I held my breath during those shots but I have never looked back. I believe it was the right decision.

My advice; do the research before you take your baby to the doctor. Organizations like the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition and talking with your pediatrician will help put your mind at ease and help you make the right choice in immunizing your child.

The Risk of the Intentional Unvaccinated

I was able to celebrate a friend’s coming baby at a shower this past weekend. The parents knew they are having a girl in May, so how were the gifts? Cute…cuter…and cutest! So much pink and brown! Such cute outfits! Such tiny shoes and pretty accessories!

As the mom-to-be opened gifts the conversation turned towards child rearing. The group of women ranged in age from late 20s to grandmothers (about to be great grandmothers), it became clear that, there was a wide-range of gifts but also a wide range of opinions on vaccines.

The younger crowd gave diaper wipe warmers, a stylish breastfeeding Boppy that matched the nursery decor, designer diaper bags that could go from the playground during the day to The MET at night! These were the women who questioned the need for vaccines

What diseases? Haven’t we eradicated them all?

Childhood diseases are a thing of the past, they’ve moved on to more contemporary diseases like AIDS and breast cancer.

The older crowd gave gifts such a delicate hand-knitted dresses, beautifully hand-stitched quilts (no machine stitching for these diehards), and a homemade diaper wipe holder made from what appeared to be a place mat. Born before the routine childhood series was available, these women have seen the ravages polio and diphtheria. They recall classmates paralyzed by polio, months spent in iron lungs, metal leg braces, and babies who coughed themselves to death before their third birthday. When they vaccinated their children, it was a modern medical wonder. It is their hope that their grandchildren would choose to vaccinate, too.

But sometimes children are not getting the vaccines they need to protect them from these nasty diseases. Some parents would rather “risk” the disease. That makes me uneasy for their child and angry because of the risk to all other children. Their “risk” isn’t limited to just their child or even to just their family. We ALL take that risk and here’s why.

When community vaccination levels fall below the recommended effective coverage levels of 90% , it leaves an opening for disease. Think we’ve eradicated disease? Think again. Check out this new report from the Journal of Pediatrics that profiles the case of a 7-year-old whose parents intentionally didn’t vaccinate him. The boy went to Europe and contracted measles, and when he returned to San Diego, he unknowingly exposed 839 people.

Measles are highly contagious spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. Eleven unvaccinated children contracted the disease and an infant too young to be vaccinated was hospitalized. Public Health officials quarantined another 48 infants in order to prevent further spread and infection.

No virus is more contagious than measles. “If a measles-infected person walks into a room with 10 uninfected people,” said Dr. David Sugerman of the CDC in a recent NPR interview, “nine of them will get infected.” Moreover, anyone who goes into that room within the next two hours after the infected person has left is likely to get measles, too
Measles outbreaks like this one due to “intentionally unvaccinated” children are widespread.

From January through July 2008, CDC received reports of 131 measles cases from 15 states and the District of Columbia—the highest year-to-date number since 1996. More than 90% of those infected had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown. Many of these individuals were children whose parents chose not to have them vaccinated. Fifteen of the patients, including four infants, were hospitalized.

During the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver two different measles virus strains were brought from travelers from Asia and the city continues to try to contain a measles outbreak. Those infected were two Canadians and an American. As a result, 16 people in a large family who are unvaccinated have contracted the disease.

What blows my mind is that this family didn’t decline vaccines based upon allergies, medical reasons or religious belief but because a close family friend who was anti-vaccines convinced them not to get vaccinated!? Here was a pocket of vulnerability which gave the disease an opportunity to spread.

While it appears that measles is a forgotten disease by the young mothers I met this weekend, it infects about 23,000,000 people and kills about 500,000 people each year around the world. Measles can cause a pregnant woman to miscarry or give birth prematurely. About 1 out of 10 children with measles also get an ear infection, and up to 1 out of 20 get pneumonia. About 1 out of 1,000 get encephalitis, and 1 or 2 out of 1,000 die.

There will always be some children and adults who can never be vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated in time. Unvaccinated children also pose a threat to children with legitimate medical exemptions who cannot be immunized because of health complications. These are often our most fragile children including those battling leukemia, cancer or HIV. Even children with allergies to certain vaccine ingredients, like eggs, have to go unprotected.

Guest Dad Josh: Vaccination, Against All Odds

Welcome our first guest Dad post! Thank you to Josh for lending his voice to this issue and being one awesome father.

Josh Tyson lives in Denver with his wife, Nicole, and their sons, Elias and Arius. He chronicles the media they (cautiously) share with their boys at thekidsarewatching.com and is a member of New Age Dad, the nation’s premier rock band of dads, toddlers, babies and dogs. Josh is a regular contributor to the New York Times’ Motherlode blog and is currently working on some children’s books.

My wife and I have always been skeptical of the classic American approach to well being. We don’t pop pain tablets when we have headaches and when we have colds we drink heaps of herbal tea in lieu of narcotic syrups. I sincerely doubt that either of us will ever experiment with antidepressants and putting one of our kids on something like Ritalin is out of the question.

Nicole pushed both of our boys into this world without meds and started breastfeeding them right away. We didn’t have them circumcised and weren’t thrilled about subjecting them to a battery of needles in the first few years of their lives.
In the months leading up to the birth of our first, the hasty conspiracy theorist in me was tempted to write off vaccination as another shortsighted way for Big Medicine to line their pockets, but the more research we did, the more confident we became that vaccination was the best choice for our family.

Nicole has a cousin with severe autism, so the concerns posed by famous people and concerned parents out of the limelight were not taken lightly. In the end, however, we decided that there wasn’t significant evidence to link vaccines to autism and that the risks of not vaccinating were far greater than the minimal risks posed by the catalog of recommended vaccines.

We also took into account that we want to travel with our boys, and there are plenty of global destinations we are interested in where diseases like polio haven’t been totally eradicated. Then there was the issue of civic duty. A big part of the reason that vaccines have been so effective in keeping the populace here free of nasty things like measles and mumps is that the vast majority of us are vaccinated against them.

What sealed the deal for us was the fact that every doctor we talked to had vaccinated their kids, or planned to when they had them. Out skepticism of certain elements of western medicine has always been taken with a grain of salt—namely that we aren’t doctors and what we know about the inner-workings of human body is scant compared with somebody who has trudged through eight years of medical school.

So while we’ll continue to keep our medicine cabinets bare, we’ll do so with extra piece of mind.

Even I’m Scared of Vaccines

Look at her.

I mean, seriously. Look how perfect and precious and adorable she is. I was lucky, so lucky, to fall crazy in love with my baby. From the minute she was born I was awash in the euphoria, joy and intensely biological need to love and protect her forever. I was blessed.

So imagine eight short, sleepless weeks later when I went in for her well-child exam and had to make the decision to vaccinate. What? Let you inflict pain and possible suffering on this perfect baby? What? Not just once, but four times? Yes, protecting her against eight vaccine preventable diseases, umm I guess I get that.

But four individual shots? ARE YOU INSANE? My husband, already very pale thanks to his Swedish heritage, went so white he was translucent and had to leave the room.

This was going to be hard. It goes against all biological instinct and maternal intuitiveness to willingly allow your child to be hurt or to suffer, if even for a moment.

For several minutes my only panicked thoughts were:  BACK OFF LADY, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HURT MY BABY – I’M OUTTA HERE!

I took a deep breath, I swallowed hard, I unsuccessfully choked back tears and I listened.

I listened to my choices. I listened to the risks associated with disease and how vaccines can prevent them. I listened to why, as a newborn, my baby was at her most vulnerable for these diseases. Waiting would only put her at greater risk.

I had the opportunity to fend off and protect her from something much worse than a needle prick. I had a choice to protect her. As hard as it was at that first visit, (and honestly it never gets easier) I always choose to vaccinate my babies. I choose the temporary pain of a prick over a lifetime of risk and potential disease.

So, how did you feel at your baby’s first doctor’s appointment? Were you surprised at your gut reaction? I’d love to hear your stories!