The Childhood Vaccine Dilemma

by admin on January 14, 2010

vaccinesDo you ever run across an article, email, or blog that seemed like someone had crawled inside your brain, stolen your thoughts, and then began typing them out? That’s how I felt when I read the following blog post written by “The Hippie Housewife.” She’s been gracious enough to let me publish her blog on Not One of the Herd.  So please welcome the Hippie Housewife, a 26-year-old WAHM, daughter of the King, wife to her childhood sweetheart and mother to her two little boys. If you’d like to join her on her journey as she seeks to leave the mainstream behind, please visit http://hippiehousewife.blogspot.com.

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Negligent?

I really wish magic 8 balls worked.

Or that all baby books and articles and studies said the same thing.

Or that “right answers” fell out of the sky.

Because then these no-win issues wouldn’t exist.

It seems that no matter how much I read about vaccinations, I just don’t get any further ahead, any closer to that one perfect “correct” answer.

On the one hand, I can continue to delay my son’s vaccinations and to be selective about which ones he gets in the first place. I’m very fortunate to have a doctor who accepts this without question or objection. But how would I feel if my son ended up with a vaccine-preventable disease? And is it really fair to take advantage of everyone else’s vaccinations?

On the other hand, I can have the vaccinations done. I can allow the doctor to inject them into my baby. And then I can hope and pray that he isn’t adversely affected by them, and constantly wonder whether this or that is a result of the vaccines.

Either way, I’m gambling. Either way, I take a risk with my son’s health, with his life. It feels like either way, I lose.

My perfect little baby boy is napping a few feet away from me, blissfully unaware that on Tuesday, when he turns six months old, we will go see the doctor and once again his mom will say no, not today, we’re still delaying. No, not today will we inject him with substances that could have lasting negative effects on his health and development. No, not today will we increase his protection against this, that, and the other. What does that make us? Good? Bad? Thoughtful? Negligent?

Confused?

I know there probably is no right answer here. But for now, I’m doing what I think is best, after months of research. I’m continuing to delay. In the meantime, I’m breastfeeding, the bit of protection I can give him without worry. I’ll keep delaying until I feel it’s time to do otherwise – and maybe that day simply won’t ever come.


The Definition of “Risk”

I’m trying to be patient. I really am. But when people can’t even understand a concept so basic as “risk”…well, it becomes rather difficult.

Risk is the possibility of an event occurring. When I say there is a risk of such-and-such, I don’t mean that it will happen. I mean there is a possibility that it will happen.

So the fact that it didn’t happen to your sister/mother/friend/etc is, I’m sorry to say, really quite irrelevant.

There are risks associated with epidurals. There are risks associated with being induced. There are risks associated with medical tests. With formula. With babies watching television. With vaccines. With leaving a baby to cry alone. There simply are.

I just want people to think. To have all the knowledge they need to make an informed decision. Not to necessarily make the same decision I would – just to make an informed one. Maybe for you the benefit is worth the risk, while for me it isn’t. That’s fine – just be willing to recognize that the risk exists in the first place! I can respect that sort of decision. What I can’t respect is the poor logic of “such-and-such didn’t happen to so-and-so, therefore there is no risk”, or, perhaps even worse, “it won’t happen to me.”

Those two statements are so hurtful in the way they completely disqualify and invalidate the experiences of all those to whom it did happen. So it didn’t happen to your sister – that doesn’t mean it won’t happen to you. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t already happened to countless numbers of other women. Show some respect for those women – recognize that the risk exists. Just recognize that it exists.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

rachel January 16, 2010 at 12:12 am

I’m not trying to be critical of this point of view (which I understand and respect) but I wish this mentioned the concept of “herd immunity.” As I understand it, choosing not to get your children vaccinated weakens the immunity of the community as a whole, and puts kids with immunity problems at a greater risk. Apparently, since parents who object to vaccinations are still allowed to send their children to public schools, parents with children who have immunity deficiencies often have to seek out other alternatives.
Of course I realize every parent has to make the decision that is best for their own child, and as someone who doesn’t have kids, I don’t know what that choice is like. I just think that considering herd immunity is an important part of the decision.

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Sheila January 16, 2010 at 8:55 am

Hi Rachel,
Thanks for the comment.

That’s a point I struggle with constantly. On one day I’ll be completely sympathic to that argument, then the next day, I’m completely cynical. I mean, this society is completely based on selfishness. Do you think anyone else got their child vaccinated for the greater good? They may say so, but I believe the vast majority was simply because they wanted their child to be what they consider safe.

Are these people I’m supposed to be “helping” by vaccinating my child doing anything for ME, and MY CHILDREN? Are they recycling and taking care of the earth for MY CHILDREN? Are they helping me fight the schools for organic lunches not filled with GMOs, toxic-chemicals and other crap for MY CHILDREN to eat? Are they not using toxic house cleaners that go down the drain that I, and my child, eventually have to drink? Of course, I could go on and on, but hopefully you get my meaning. There are thousands of things people do everyday that negatively influence the health of the whole community. So, do they care? So it crosses my mind: Why should I put my child at risk for them, when they could care less about me?

But then the next day, I’m back to wanting to help the greater good. It’s a struggle for sure.

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