Monday, September 14, 2009

Inquisition Monday: Vaccines

This is from Alice. We lived on the same floor in the dorms my freshman year. Her husband has had classes with my husband so our paths have crossed a couple of times.

Have you taken Margaret to get immunizations? How do you feel about immunizations in general?

I know some people like to be picky, so I'll clarify. Margaret gets immunities every time she breastfeeds. She hasn't received vaccinations, though.

Our official stance right now is that we're waiting until she is at least 2 and then we'll decide from there. At that point some vaccines, like the rotavirus, are not needed anymore. Also, for others, she wouldn't receive as many doses because she would be starting later. Then there are vaccines that I don't really care about (rubella, varicella) and if she caught rubella or chicken pox, well, then she gets them and she'll get over it. Other vaccines aren't even pertinent at this stage in her life (Hep B). She's not shooting up drugs nor sleeping around- in fact since we bedshare we can guarantee we know all of her bedmates! Haha!

We feel comfortable with this choice for a couple of reasons.

  1. She is still breastfeeding and will be for many more months (years?). Because she is getting constant antiviral and antibacterial defenses from my milk, we are not as worried about her catching things.
  2. She is a stay at home child. If our circumstances were different and she had to go to a daycare and be surrounded by lots of other children, her chances of running into a vaccine-preventable illness would be much higher.
  3. We live in the United States so certain diseases like polio are pretty much nonexistent. If we were to vacation or move to a place with more exposure to diseases like that, then we'd reconsider our position.
Here is a site where you can read the ingredients in each vaccine along with side effects- to save space in linking to all the information below.
Some vaccines (such as the flu) have egg products in them. Because of allergy reasons, we wanted to wait until Margaret was a year before she was exposed to most egg products.
Some vaccines (flu again) still have mercury in them. While mercury has been removed from the MMR, it's still in some vaccines.
Vaccines like the DTaP, Rotavirus, HepA and HepB, pneumococcus have aluminum in them. Going by the current vaccine schedule, the amount of aluminum in some of those doses is pretty high. There aren't very many (any?) studies about the toxicity of aluminum from vaccines and how they affect children. We decided that if we do continue with some of those vaccines, we'll do it slowly so her system isn't overloaded on aluminum.

Concerns brought up by LDS people:
She won't be able to go on a mission! Um. Yes, she will. First, you are allowed to go to a stateside mission without being vaccinated. Second, when she's 20 and considering going on a mission, she'll be an adult and can do whatever she'd like about her body and health choices. Also, she'll be probably 6 times bigger than she is now and fully developed. The negative impact of vaccines would be much smaller if that's what she decides to do for herself.

But the Church obviously supports vaccines- they donate measles vaccines to various countries around the world. Yes, they do, and if we lived in those places, we'd seriously consider vaccines for Margaret. Also, it sounds as if they are just vaccinating against measles only- which is different even from the MMR we have here. I might consider parts of the MMR vaccine if it were possible to split it up, but unfortunately separate M, M, and R vaccines aren't readily available here.

Besides that site I linked to above which contains the package insert of most of the vaccines, I read the Vaccine Book. In it, you are taken through the vaccine: what is in them, how they're produced, the details and severity of the disease each vaccine is meant to help against, the severity of each vaccine's side effects, and there are examples of both delayed and selective vaccination schedules based on severity of illness and vaccine side effects. It's probably more information than you're able to take in! They have it at the Provo library, but usually there's a big waiting list- just a little warning there!

Alice, I'll probably answer the rest of your questions next Monday. This was a pretty intensive question and needed extra space.


  1. I really like The Vaccine Book. It definitely isn't anti-vaccine, but it isn't exactly pro-vaccine either. Very good for information.

  2. Vaccine information makes my head swirl. For the first year of my son's life, I had a gut feeling we needed to wait on vaccines. I prayed about it, and that's pretty much the answer I got. At a year, I started to feel that maybe he could handle a slow schedule of selected vaccines, but every time I start to do more research, I only find reasons NOT to vaccinate. It's so hard trying to make a decision.

  3. Will's four and he's one of the healthiest kids I know; vaccinated and non-vaccinated alike. Most people, when they find out I haven't had my kids vaccinated, always assume it's because I'm scared of the risk of autism... but it's so much more than that. Everything you've mentioned in this post is our reasoning behind our decision, too. *B

  4. Very informative! Thanks! I do like how you clarified the difference between immunities and vaccines. I really wish I'd researched this subject more with Ben. I'll definitely look into The Vaccine Book.

  5. I also notice a difference between my non-vaccinated child and other vaccinated children. For instance, he rarely gets sick (and that's not breastfeeding, because unfortunatly we are not BFing any more)and when he does it lasts for maybe a day. a whole day of runny nose. we've never had an ear infection and we've never gone to the doctor for an illness. We are pretty healthy eaters, and we are mostly stay at home, so that helps too! But I don't try to keep him away from sick people at all and he gets pretty good other kid contact at church. I think you have a very healthy attitude about vaccines! I think i've pretty much decided never to do it, especially as a i want to homeschool, but i reserve the right to change my mind!

  6. just a quick note (to be picky ;)

    the MMR vax never contained mercury. since it's a live-virus vax, it cannot contain mercury, as the mercury would kill off the virus. mercury is only found in killed-virus vaxes.

    great post! very informative :)


Please review my blog comment policy here before commenting. You may not use the name "Anonymous." You must use a Google Account, OpenID, or type in a name in the OpenID option. You can make one up if you need to. Even if your comment is productive and adding to the conversation, I will not publish it if it is anonymous.