Monday, December 15, 2008

Moron Vaccines

Whoops, I meant to write "More On Vaccines".

My bad.

It occurred to me as I read some of the responses to my last post that I should explain my positions on vaccinations in general.

(You can email me any time if you have more detailed questions or comments re: this issue. This is just a little, teeny overview.)

First, before you get all hot and bothered, I'd like to offer this caveat:
Every parent has unique experiences/friends/family/physical issues/children and I understand that, and the many different reasons people choose to, or not to vaccinate their children/parents/anyone in their charge.
Sometimes it's a guilt thing. Sometimes it's a tradition thing. Sometimes it's a "go with the flow and don't make waves" thing. Sometimes it's a forced thing. Sometimes it's even a good thing (like if there were a vaccine for Ebola in a third world country or something, I'm sure). But EVERY time, it should be a CHOICE and not a law.

I didn't always think the way I think about vaccines. I started out trusting that the medical community had all of our best interests at heart. I worked in a nursing home my senior year of high school, and after in assisted living and home care, and also with profoundly, mentally retarded teens in a group home. I started to go to nursing school and quickly realized that, as much as I loved caring for vulnerable people, nursing was NOT for me. I hated the whole cold, know it all, big butt nurse attitudes and was disillusioned with the whole mess. I took a break for a little while and worked in an office until I had Trina then went back to work in a nursing home until that didn't work out any more and I came home for good (with little odd jobs here and there since then).

I tried to keep up with Trina's vaccination schedule (big poster in the doctor's office with ricket-y kids and kids with giant pustules all over their poor, third world bodies convinced me it must be the right thing to do) but we didn't have health insurance and I missed her 18 month boosters. The guilt racked me on a daily basis back then. I remember feeling like the worst mother in the world and even went to a "wellness on wheels" van one time to see if I could get her updated but chickened out because I couldn't bear the thought of her screaming in that small space while I filled out forms, etc. (I'm also a little claustrophobic).

So, fast forward to right before Matty was born ('97) when mom mentioned to me in passing how they were starting to do the hepatitis b vaccine in the hospital (at birth) and she wondered out loud why they would need to do that if most of the people who got hep.b were actually AIDS patients? I just kind of shrugged and didn't think too much about it but decided to just wait until later to study up on that and delay that vaccination. I had to sign a waiver at the hospital and I remember thinking that that was odd. At his two, four, and six month appts. I told the doctor each time that I DID NOT want the hep b vaccine but that I was fine with all the others (I still hadn't done any research and didn't want to take a risk). Each time, she had a student with her that would ask the same questions separately and each time, the student asked me why I was refusing the hep. b. I thought that was a little personal but I wasn't too bothered by it at the time. The nurse would bring in the shots, hand me the "sign on the highlighted lines" carbon sheet with the vaccines listed. I signed them quickly, ready to grab my screaming child and nurse him so he'd be comforted. I didn't even think any thing more about the whole thing until I got the bill from the ins. co. that stated the vaccines he had received and that they had paid for. I noticed that they had paid for hep. b. shots and I didn't think it was fair that they had to pay for something that the patient hadn't received so I called the hosp. and got his records only to see that I had signed off on, and he HAD RECEIVED all three shots.

I was so mad! I could see it happening ONCE, by accident, but EACH TIME??? It made me think back and I remembered the look on the nurses face (photographic memory) and how she was all sneaky-like and sheepish as she brought the tray of shots in. It was the same nurse every time for sure. When I went for his 18 month appt. I expressed my disgust with the doctor and she just kind of shrugged and apologized for the miscommunication but didn't offer any more advice or reassurance other than an "oh well, at least he's vaccinated against that" kind of attitude.

In the years between him and Analise, I did some research (mostly at the library, I didn't have great internet access at that time) and the more I looked into it, the scarier it got.

See, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't when it comes to vaccines! I know you know what I'm talking about no matter which "side" you're on in this issue!

I decided not to vaccinate anymore until/unless I was totally convinced it was necessary and that it could do good for my kids instead of being a risky endeavor. Matty had all kinds of food (milk, peanuts, eggs, soy) and pet allergies and got asthma-like symptoms whenever he got fevers or colds (he outgrew the food ones, except peanut, by the time he was 3). Nothing freaks out a mom like a three month old baby who turns blue because of a lousy 101 fever and a little cough! Luckily, he nursed like a bandit and I didn't have to buy that super expensive hypoallergenic formula that would have broken the bank!

Okay so here are the stats (take them for what they're worth):

Trina-vaccinated up to 3 years (not hep b and not chicken pox)
Has a diagnosed, lifetime disorder (that I won't name for her privacy) that is endocrine system related.

Matty-vaccinated up to 18 months (not chicken pox)
Has lifetime allergy to peanuts/pet dander, and tendency to sinus infection

Neither Trina nor Matty threw up as infants.

Trina, Matty, and Analise all had chicken pox at the same time when they were about 6, 3, and 1

Analise, Niklaus, Mari, and Thomas are all not vaccinated for anything.

Analise, Niklaus, and Mari all had MAJOR barfing when they were infants up until they started walking. Thomas missed out on that particular thing (yay!).

Analise had pertussis (whooping cough) when she was about 2 but handled it quite well. She does have a problem breathing when she has a severe cold that affects her lungs and sometimes needs an inhaler/neb treatment (about once a year or less).

None of the kids have ever had chronic ear infections (Only Trina ever really had a bad one at all).

None of my kids have any kind of learning problems (other than the one where they can't seem to "learn" how to avoid getting in trouble for picking on each other!) or need glasses.

I'm not sure what anyone could DO with all that info but, in the interest of full disclosure, I thought it might be interesting to see a little history "snapshot" of why I don't vaccinate and some possible health problems (either way) regarding my decisions to vaccinate/not vaccinate.

Also, could anyone PLEASE let me know if they have been exposed to chicken pox? I need to get my three youngers exposed (totally bearable and easier the younger you are and absolutely HORRID to have as an adult)!

Yeah, I'm the meanest mom on the planet and NO, I won't accept anonymous comments for this post.