Is anybody actually vaccinating their kid anymore?

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

That is the question I need to answer by Baby D's two-month checkup.

After listening to the arguments and doing some research, I'm leaning towards the yes, vaccinate camp.

After years of getting are you crazy? remarks for unusual lifestyle habits I practice, such as attempting a home birth, practicing NFP, and my latest thing, EC-ing, I find it odd to be leaning towards a decision in favor the mainstream-- and still getting the "Are you crazy?" vibe. Almost everyone I've talked to has chosen not to vaccinate their kid, and it almost makes me feel like a sellout, a blind sheep, brainlessly following the system without a thought.

But I have thought it out. I've read books, I've heard the arguments; and I think the benefits of vaccination protection outweigh the risks (especially if no one else is vaccinating their kids, ha ha!). I know that Baby D will not be getting a few vaccinations: Hep B, which is essentially an STD and therefore not an issue for babies; the flu shot, which only immunizes against a few strains; and chicken pox, which is, well, chicken pox.

I'm still not 100% decided. On one hand, these vaccinations are highly recommended by CDC and the AAP, highly trained health professionals who have a much better idea of what's going on than I. They spend their whole lives researching this stuff and practicing it. On the other hand, these "highly trained professionals" have, in the past, highly recommended using leeches for bleeding. Medical science is always changing, and who knows if that will also apply to vaccines.

On one hand, Baby D will have to get these vaccinations to participate in public school activities (unless we're in a state where one can decline for religious reasons), and most definitely to get into college, so why not wait until necessity dictates it? On the other hand, I know from firsthand experience what it's like to get the whole series of every shot your senior year of high school. And believe me, it SUCKS!!! (all my immunization records got lost-- neither my parents nor the doctor's office had them, so I had to get everything all over again-- I'm guessing upwards of twelve shots over a five-month span. I now have no fear of needles, and needless to say, if I go through with Baby D's immunizations, I will guard those records like a rottweiler!!!)

On one hand, I could do what a lot of people are doing, and take advantage of the fact that most other people are immunized, and avoid vaccinations myself-- called "herd protection". Of course, if no one else is immunizing their kids, that's not much of a herd!....And then there's the sibling thing. Anyone who has had a few siblings knows that once one person gets sick, the whole family generally has a mini-epidemic. What's worse than one kid with whooping cough? Four or five kids with whooping cough! On the off-chance that one of my kids got exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease, I think vaccination might be good for my own sanity and the sibling's health.

I'm not too worried about aluminum levels, considering Baby D's size (at six weeks old, he is 12 pounds, 12 ounces!). Even so, there is an alternative schedule that spreads the vaccinations over tons more office visits, but I don't think that's very practical.

I feel like I will be getting tacit condemnation from the moms who are choosing not to vaccinate, as once again, "someone succumbs to the system." Oh, the joys of being a parent-- having to do what you think is best, regardless what Aunt Martha or the next-door-neighbor thinks! All you moms out there, what did you decide about vaccinations? I'm very curious to hear about your experiences!


  1. Well, you know what I have done since we have talked about it. :) But what I have chosen for my family doesn't mean it's the right decision for someone else's family.

    Why do you have to decide by 2 months? If you want to delay you can delay until you decide you are ready and confident in the decision.

    Also, I'm sure you've read so much and know there are other exemptions than religious...?? And all states but two (MS and WV) have the religious exemption.

    Please please don't feel like you are giving in or that you are a sellout!! The most important things are that you have done the research, that you are making an informed decision, and that you feel right about it in your gut. It's a hard decision to make and it's one that shouldn't be done without knowing the benefits and risks. After you have done all of that and feel confident, who cares what anyone else thinks?

  2. My mother-in-law is a health care provider in Minnesota. She shared during our last visit that recently they'd had several kids hospitalized (and one died) from preventable childhood diseases due to lack of immunization. They'd even recently had a slightly older child diagnosed with POLIO!

    I think you best put it in your post. The benefits STILL far outweigh the risks. You've done your homework, now don't be afraid to stand your ground.

  3. i'm not a mom but i've had one haha. anyway...i got all my immunizations (except never a flu one, never had the flu in my life ever so i'm not worried). i didn't get the Hep ones til high school and I was fine. i know i'm not a mom so feel free to throw out my comment, but i had the immunizations and have had no major health problems or anything. i never got any major diseases and the tetanus came in handy as i got shot with a dart gun as a teen! and my parents let me get chicken pox and get the immunity on my own so that i commend you for. also my sister is in public health (focusing on moms and kids) and i know she recommends immunizations. most ppl i personally know are vaccinating their kids. i plan to vaccinate my future children. but probably not in the ones you chose not to. chicken pox is a part of childhood lol!

  4. Even without children I've already started thinking about these questions. I asked a friend of mine what she is doing because she has similar, more natural beliefs like me. She said her son will eventually get the vaccines but she is waiting until he is older. So not when he is a baby. Like somebody else said...you don't have to make the decision by 2 months. Spend some more time thinking and processing

  5. We're totally on the same page about vaccines :) We declined the Hepatitis B one, and since we will probably homeschool, hopefully won't need to get it (unless it's required for college or something). I probably won't do the chicken pox vaccine unless she gets to be older (whatever "older" is) and still hasn't had them. The older you get, the harder chicken pox are on you and can even be life threatening for an adult. I didn't have chicken pox until I was 14 and only b/c my mom made it known to everyone she knew that she was looking for chicken pox... and then took us to a friend of a friend of a friend's house to play with their kids who had them. Nothing like walking towards a smoking gun, eh? LOL. I kinda agree about the flu vaccine, too. I did get both of them while I was pregnant since Susannah was going to be born still in the "height" of flu season and being a newborn her risks for getting it and it being very hard on her were higher. But that's only the 2nd time I've ever gotten the flu vaccine and I don't plan to get it this year.

    You've obviously done your research and are doing what you feel is best! I like what you said about doing it if no one else is :) That makes sense.

  6. I'm a public school teacher and I plan on having my daughter brought to me mid-day to be nursed when I return to work in January...so naturally, immunizations are almost a must have for me. There's just so much exposure at a public school. So yes, I plan to vaccinate my children.

    Even if I didn't work at a public school, I still would though. I would, however, consider putting it off until she's older. There's really not much risk if you're mainly staying at home. I would for sure have them done by kindergarten...I know first hand how fast illness spreads in school. That's why I got the H1-N1 vaccine while I was pregnant.

    Keep in mind, I'm miss natural/organic vegetarian over here. I'm very conscious of what goes into the body. However, I believe there are adaptations that must be made with society. If I am choosing to live around populated areas, then I accept the risks and plan accordingly. I just think relying on "herd protection" is like driving with my eyes closed and hoping everyone else is driving safely around me.

    I'm actually more focused on making sure my child doesn't eat fast food, food dyes, hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup. I think there are more risks eating unnatural food than being vaccinated (obesity, for example.) Hot dogs alone have been linked to autism in children.

    Do what you feel is right. You're the mom and mom knows best! No one should criticize whatever decision you make...anyone who does is ignorant. >:-(

  7. It's agonizing to make these huge decisions for a little one. I think you're doing the right thing by researching the topic and sticking to your guns.

    After hearing both sides, we went ahead and have followed the traditional immunization recommendations for our daughter. I know it sounds dumb, but I'm afraid for her to play with other kids who aren't immunized. There are a lot of people around us (in Montana, including a polygamist community) who don't immunize. I guess they have bad whooping cough outbreaks at the schools from it.

    The nice thing about living in our era is that we can pick and choose how traditional or alternative our lifestyle is and get the best of both worlds.

  8. I have a lengthy blog on this subject that I have yet to publish because I know people have very strong opinions about vaccines.

    My concerns were never about foregoing vaccines altogether, just about using the most gentle schedule possible. Though I'm still undecided about Chicken Pox. We chose to go with an alternative schedule---ours is different than Dr. Sears'. At Evan's two month appointment we spoke with her doctor and she recommended that we get one shot with Dtap, Polio and Hib. Then the next month is Rota and PCV. Hep B won't be until junior high/high school.

    My reasoning is that with only one combo shot or later, two vaccinations being pumped through Evan, if she does have a reaction, there's a better chance that we can track down exactly what she's reacting to. One of the guys in Jason's former unit became paralyzed from the hips down for a week after receiving the anthrax vaccine. Granted, it's anthrax, and he eventually recovered, but I can't help but feel that if a vaccination can cause chaos in a grown man's body, they can do much worse to a baby's incredibly sensitive neurosystem.

    She screamed in her sleep throughout the day after that first combo shot (she was a trooper immediately after, but several hours later she screamed intermittently). I imagine she would have been fairly inconsolable if she'd gotten two other shots plus the oral rota vaccine. I'm staying home with her and don't mind taking her into the doctor more often if it means she never runs a fever or has a reaction.

  9. So much of the push to get kids vaccinated these days has to do with the public health problem that statistically, providers don't see kids between the ages of 2 -4, unless they are really sick. So the drive is to get them vaccinated as quickly as possible.
    There is no medical reason why you cant stretch out their vaccinations over a much more reasonable timetable.
    Use the CDC's recommendations chart, just go out to the end of the timeline for each vaccine and work up your own.
    Best of luck, struggled with this for years.

  10. Wow, I thought most people did still vaccinate. Anyway, I'm sure whatever you decide will be fine. Since you clearly are not a blind sheep, you will make an informed decision that is best for your family. And that's what is most important.

    Also, I loved this line: "On the other hand, these "highly trained professionals" have, in the past, highly recommended using leeches for bleeding." Sometimes things like that make me worry a bit, but we just have to do the best we can with the times we've been given!

  11. We went ahead and got the vaccines. We skipped the 12 month set though and will be doing them in a few days at Kayla's 15 month appt instead. That was just because of insurance reasons not personal reasons. I doubt we'll do chicken pox though. My reasoning for just doing it and on schedule (for the most part) was that this is the age where it would be most dangerous if they caught any of the diseases because they are still developing their immune systems. I just wanted to get the pain over with so I didn't choose to spread them out. it just seems like it made more sense to do it and be done, then spread them out and have more visits and have to endure my child crying more times. But my motto is to do whatever makes you and your husband most comfortable.

  12. You guys need to do what you are most comfortable with. You will always have people disagree with your decisions, but that's none of their business.

    That said, we chose to not immunize our children right away. We were going to wait until our first was about 2 years old, but by then I was pregnant with my second, and I was concerned about any cross-contamination during pregnancy. My oldest is almost 9, and none of my four have ever been immunized. This is not a big issue for us, because they are homeschooled, so they are not constantly exposed/bombarded by germs. We know that if we ever travel out of the country, or when they are getting ready for college, they will have to get their shots then. One I would stay away from is the chicken pox vaccine. I have heard that shingles has become a very common reaction to it.

    Best of luck to you guys. It's always hard to make these decisions, especially with everybody throwing their opinions in. :-D Whatever decision you guys make will be good, because you guys ARE thinking about it and researching it.


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