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!