If you have ever had a discussion with someone about whether or not they vaccinate their children, you know that it can be quite heated. People can become very defensive and righteous about their opinion on this subject. How I see it, both sides of the debate are driven by the same basic emotion, which is fear. Individuals who choose to vaccinate do so because there is a fear of contracting an illness that could be harmful, or even fatal. Individuals who choose not to vaccinate do so because there is a fear that the chemicals used in the vaccines could be equally as harmful. When you have a child with complex medical needs, this decision becomes more complicated.
When our first son was born he suffered a birth injury causing substantial brain damage and subsequently, cerebral palsy. During those first few years I spent countless hours researching how to best care for my son. Included in that research were the pros and cons of vaccines. I read two books on the subject, The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears and What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Vaccines by Stephanie Cave. The latter was actually recommended to me by our pediatrician.
Through these resources I decided that the best course of action for us, regarding vaccines, was to use an alternate schedule. I felt it was important to have the protection of the vaccines for my son’s compromised system, but I was also conscious of the number of injections being given in a short period of time to a very compromised nervous system. Because my son did not go to daycare and was not exposed to large numbers of people we felt he was safe not being vaccinated until his nervous system had more time to mature. Some of the specifics of our schedule include:
- We pushed the first round of shots off until 5 months of age.
- We only gave one shot at a time. If there were three shots due, we separated them by at least a month.
- We gave immunizations for those diseases that we felt were the biggest threats: DTAP, HIB, IPV, and PCV.
- My son received the Varicella vaccine at age seven and has not yet received the MMR and Hep B vaccines.
- We started the flu shot just last year for my oldest son, but our younger children do not get an annual vaccine for the flu.
Of course starting school posed a problem with our schedule because my son still had not received some of the vaccines required. If you have a religious belief that prevents getting vaccines, that is protected by law and the school simply requires a signed statement. Some doctors are also willing to provide a note stating that you are working to “catch up” on the vaccine schedule or that the child cannot receive a vaccine because of their health status.
Deciding to vaccinate your child is a very personal matter. Whatever your choice, make sure to do your research and choose what is best for your child and your situation.