I understand this post is going to be somewhat controversial.
When we had our first child, we struggled with whether or no to get him vaccinated. It wasn’t that we believed that vaccinations caused autism or other learning or behavior problems, but rather that we were not satisfied with the amount of research that had gone into vaccinations. We struggled with the idea of adding something into our son’s system that could potentially mess with his tiny little body. We struggled with the idea of giving our son something that may change him before we even got to know him. We never judged other parents for deciding to vaccinate their children, however we always encouraged parents to do their research and know about what they were getting their child vaccinated for.
One of our beliefs was that with better access to clean water, health care, and careful hygiene practices we could take on many of these diseases if our children were ever so unlucky.
As our first son got older it became apparent that he faced some serious illnesses that directly impacted his immune system; Anaphylaxis, Asthma and the much less serious eczema became constants in our lives. Not to mention the occurrence of a seizure, and the chronic diarrhea our son had dealt with from day one. With his emerging hyperactive immune system we believed it better to wait until we had figured out and dealt with some of his health concerns before adding something new and foreign into his body. With our doctor, we decided that we would put him on a delayed schedule for some of the highly encouraged vaccinations, but there were a few we were definitely still uncomfortable with. A few months after his fourth birthday, he received his first set of vaccinations.
When our second son was born, we had the same dialogue, but determined we would not wait as long to get him vaccinated. We could tell right from the beginning that his little body was the different from his brother’s. We still had our major reservations about vaccinations but, we knew that we would be getting his much earlier than we did for his brother.
Now one thing to keep in mind is that children under one, whether vaccinated or not, are at risk of contracting the diseases that vaccinations cover. A child following a regular schedule for vaccinations is not considered fully immune before the age of one and there is still at risk of contracting certain illnesses. For children not vaccinated the risk increases.
If you regularly read my blog you would have noticed that there are no entries for the month of September, this is because of one awful word: PERTUSSIS. Last month our seven months old son contracted Pertussis. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is highly contagious before being treated with a full course of antibiotics. Most of the time infants who contract the disease get it from an adult. Most adults who have received the DTaP vaccinations in childhood are no longer immune to Pertussis as it requires a booster shot in adulthood. As a child, I was vaccinated for Pertussis, but in spite of this I contracted the illness. Pertussis was our first run in with a disease covered by vaccinations.
It took one visit to our family doctor and two visits to children’s emergency before we received a confirmed diagnosis and by then the illness had progressed so far that the only thing antibiotics did was make the Pertussis not contagious. Infants under one year old are most at risk of complications leading to serious implications. If you ever have an infant that contracts Pertussis you will learn the words “spontaneous recovery,” in reference to your baby continually stopping and starting breathing. The fact is that it’s been over 5 weeks and he still has many fits of coughing a day followed by short periods of time when he cannot breath. I wish I could say that things have gotten better, but the fact remains that our son is still quite sick, though his disposition has improved greatly.
With the Pertussis everyone in our family and our neighbors’ family was treated for it with antibiotics, but the complications have been Mike getting Bronchitis, myself getting pneumonia and our entire family getting a virus. It has been a long, expensive and exhausting journey. The reality is that we now have both boys on a schedule for the full course of vaccinations. Our youngest will have to wait until his health has improved, but I am less comfortable with our son stopping breathing than I am the unknowns of vaccinations.
We have received a lot of criticism around not vaccinating our children, I understand the concerns but as a parent you need to be comfortable with what goes into your child and if you’re not you need to understand why. It is not good enough to simply trust your Doctor or the advice of other people. Our first visit to children’s emergency I asked the Doctor if it could be Pertussis, the Doctor told us it was definitely NOT Pertussis. Doctors are well educated, but they are humans just like you and I and it pays to do extra research. However, be aware that in doing this research you may move from being indifferent to becoming more or less comfortable with what you are researching.
With this I will sign off and hope that my time this month is filled with less illness and more writing.
P.S. I wonder what would happen if all people regularly washed their hands, coughed into their elbows and didn’t go out when they were sick.