To Vaccinate or Not
Just three days after the release of Dr. Bob Sears’ The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child (2007), the latest addition to my family was due for her first round of immunizations.
Shortly after the birth of each child, I have found myself agonizing over the “vaccine decision”—whether I should immunize my child, and if so, when. Usually, this agony sets in at the eleventh hour, like the night before each “big” appointment.
Luckily, immunizations have gone well in my household. By well, I’m talking no obvious or immediate adverse reactions—maybe a little crankiness or redness at the injection site, but nothing that has set me into panic mode.
But, I can’t help but worry generally about vaccines, especially about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “recommended” immunization schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I know that vaccines are important. I know that the polio vaccine has virtually eradicated polio. I understand that “croup” (pertussis) can be life threatening, especially to infants. I know children can die from the flu.
It’s what I don’t know that concerns me—even scares me.
So, like many mothers who agonize over the “vaccine decision”, I was thrilled to learn about Dr. Sears’ new book. Though, the way I stumbled upon it was purely accidental. My friend happened to have brought The Vaccine Book with her one morning to our coffee date.
Thankfully, I was late that morning—how often do we actually find ourselves thankful for that, especially when we have kids? Well, my friend decided to pass time by reading the book, and she was still reading it when I arrived. I happened to tell her about my baby’s upcoming appointment, and she insisted I take the book—given that she had just purchased the new release and was dying to read it, I think that was pretty thoughtful, don’t you?
Well, that night I read (okay, there was a lot of skimming mixed in there, too) the chapters pertinent to the first round of recommended immunizations, including Dr. Sears’ alternatives to the “recommended” vaccine schedule. I learned more about vaccines in Dr. Sears’ easy to read, objective book than I’ve learned from all of those vaccine “handouts” given to me by the pediatrician.
Dr. Sears’ presentation of an “alternative” vaccine schedule supported my own thinking about vaccines—that the decision need not necessarily conform to a one size fits all approach and can often be tweaked to address individual concerns or parenting preferences. Thanks to The Vaccine Book, I went to my baby’s appointment with an alternative immunization schedule in mind. The pediatrician supported that schedule.
While the schedule may require a bit more organization on my part, since I now need to bring the baby to a few extra appointments, I’m okay with that—after all, that’s why baby organizer books exist!
For the first time, my agony over the vaccine question has subsided—at least until the next eleventh hour.