Peanut walked out of her one year doctors appointment last month with zero pricks on her thighs. This is a rare circumstance because of our decision to space out Peanut’s vaccinations. So why did she not get a vaccination this time? Peanut did not get the MMR vaccine.
No, I do not think the MMR vaccine causes autism.
No, I am not under- nor mis-informed.
No, I am not stupid.
I’ve read some articles in the newspaper lately about how doctors are concerned that parents are choosing to not vaccinate their children. They all say that the parents are misinformed. Parents think that vaccines—not actually saying MMR, but implying it because that’s the one that has been linked with it—cause autism. The articles say that parents don’t understand the seriousness of these diseases because they have not seen them first-hand. These articles say that because of these parents, there will be outbreaks and these diseases will become common place again.
I did my research—when I say I, I do not mean to imply that my husband was not involved in the decision making process, rather he trusts me to do the research and give him a detailed explanation of each side. I made a logical decision that the risks of the MMR vaccine outweighed the benefits.
Let’s go over the diseases first.
Mumps. Whenever I think of this disease I think of the Family Guy where Meg catches it because her parents forgot to vaccinate her. Yeah, it was pretty funny. I had to remind myself that it’s just a joke and they’re not implying we’re bad parents for not vaccinating Peanut, but that’s another story. On Wikipedia, the first thing they say about the prognosis of mumps is “Death is very unusual.” Mumps is one of those diseases that has a severity level of a cold in children, but is somewhat more serious in teens and adults.
Measles. Pretty much the same symptoms of the common cold with a rash thrown in for fun. This disease has a fairly high fatality rate (The Vaccine Book says 1 in 1000) which was a big deal when a million people caught it a year (in the US) before the vaccine was invented. Now there are less than 100 cases reported a year.
Rubella. This one is so mild that it often goes unnoticed. The main issue is when a pregnant woman gets it. If a woman catches it during the first trimester (or possibly the second) her baby can have some pretty major birth defects.
Now the vaccine.
The toddler will pretty much always have flu-like symptoms after the vaccine. So, for comparison sake, you’re basically guaranteeing that your child will have at least the most mild and most common side effects of the viruses.
There is also the risk that your child will contract any (or all) of the three diseases. This is pretty rare, but sometimes they don’t weaken the viruses enough. With most vaccines they don’t give you a live-active virus so that’s why there’s no chance of catching pneumococcal disease from the PC vaccine. My major problem with the vaccine is that you’re giving them three weakened viruses at once. I know, I know, they’re weakened, but you’re giving them Three. Viruses. At. Once. If the vaccines were still offered separately this would be a completely different post.
Then of course there’s a whole list of other possible side effects which include diabetes, allergic reactions, deafness, seizures, and even death. Really, all vaccines have a whole list of possible side effects because they have to report anything that happens to any of the test subjects. Of course these are scary risks, but you’re taking these risks with any vaccines. The main problem for this vaccine in particular is that there is a much, much longer list of possible side effects for this one than others which leads me to believe that side effects in general are more common with this vaccine.
Other general reasons why we’re not getting this vaccine.
Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding your kids makes them less likely to catch diseases. I really feel like I’m preaching to the choir here. You give them antibodies in your milk and that makes them less likely to get sick in general. Case in point: over this past week Peanut has had her very first cough and she is 13 months old. We go out a ton and I’m not a nit-picky mother when it comes to her eating food off the ground and the like, so if I weren’t breastfeeding I’m sure she wouldn’t have made it this long.
No daycare. It’s just a fact that daycare makes your kids more likely to get sick. They’re constantly around other kids and even with rules in place about not letting sick kids come to daycare, they’ll still expose everyone before they even know their sick. I know I take Peanut around other kids all the time with Music Together, La Leche League, etc., but an hour a day is a lot different than eight, especially when Mama is standing right there making sure you don’t stick the other kid’s booger in your mouth.
Now you’re saying:
“What if you decide to leave the country?”
We can always reassess. If we decide to go to Africa, we can always get her vaccinated then. If we decide to put her in daycare when she’s older, we can always vaccinate her then.
“What if she’s exposed to rubella when she’s older and pregnant and you’ve doomed your grandchildren?”
We may decide to give her the MMR vaccine when she enters school. If we don’t do that for whatever reason, we’ll have her tested for all three diseases (yes, you can test to see if you have immunity) when she’s 11 or so and if she doesn’t have immunity, we’ll probably vaccinate her then. There is even the possibility that she’ll be exposed to enough of the disease to cause immunity, but not enough to get her sick. Either way, her 11-year old body will be much more able to handle the vaccine than her one-year old body.
What’s your opinion on vaccinations and what did you do for your kids? If you still think I’m wrong, tell me why. I love hearing other’s perspectives because I can’t possibly think of every scenario myself.