Vaccinations are a massive debate, and with the recent measles outbreak, drug companies, government officials and other parents are putting the pressure on new parents to follow the full vaccine schedule as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. While your views on this subject may fall along any part of the spectrum, it’s important that no matter what you choose you understand everything about the vaccines, diseases and schedules as possible before you administer it to your child. Here are five things that I suggest you do before you decide to vaccinate your child:
Do some research on family history.
A history of auto-immune disorders, seizures or adverse vaccine reactions is possible in every family. It’s important to understand your own and your significant other’s family history. Vaccine manufacturers recommend that those with prolonged seizures, progressive neurological disorders, or those who are allergic to any of the vaccine ingredients not receive certain vaccinations. Before you administer vaccines on schedule, understanding what has happened to family members in the past could unlock potential issues or reactions that could happen with your little one.
Read the inserts.
No matter what your views on vaccination are, you should always read the inserts that come inside the box the vial is packed in before electing a standard vaccine schedule. Reading the inserts will help you understand which ingredients are in the vaccines that your pediatrician is giving your child. Why is this important? The DTaP vaccine’s bottle stopper is latex rubber for example, and this has been known to cause issues with those sensitive or allergic to latex. It’s also worthwhile to note that the MMR vaccine asks parents to weigh the risk and benefits of administering the vaccine for those allergic to eggs – since the vaccine could potentially cause allergic symptoms of anaphylaxis. By informing yourself and your family you can make the best decision.
Most pediatricians will gladly supply the insert (it’s less trash for them!), and you should also get the lot number and manufacturer of the shot. Think of it as part of the basic information you collect for your child’s health record, like understanding that a pill is made by Tylenol and what the expiration date on the bottle is. Similar to any pharmaceutical sometimes there can be problems with a batch, and having these details can help prevent other children from getting sick.
Understand how vaccines function.
Vaccines function in a way that is contrary to how the human immune system ordinarily works. According to the CDC, “Vaccines work to reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease.” While true that antibody immunity is a way to create defenses, it’s but one option among many for the innate immune system.
This fact sheet describes how vaccines work with this particular branch. From a broader perspective, this article from Pathways to Family Wellness describes how the immune system normally responds to disease in a natural environment versus how differently vaccinations work. It’s worthwhile to read both sides so that you can determine which makes the most sense to you.
Take a moment to really explore what each of these diseases mean.
Depending on what your approach is to wellness or sickness, it’s important to understand the risks associated with each of these diseases, the likelihood of a child being exposed to or contracting the disease and whether the disease can or cannot be treated naturally. This is, perhaps, the most important consideration, as it can clarify the timing of when you wish to inoculate your child. This is particularly true with the newborn Hep B shot and other vaccines that are implemented for children very early. The more you understand these diseases, the less fear you’ll have and when you’re not making decisions based on fear, you can make a decision that is right for you. This recent blog on measles, for example, can help you boost your immune system whether you elect to receive a vaccine or not.
Do more research.
While you can’t always believe every single thing that you read online, you should give some thought to reading about how diseases have impacted other families, and how vaccines and adverse reactions have impacted other families. This helps put you in a place outside of your comfort zone to use the research that you’ve accumulated and think, “What would I do in this situation?” Knowing what could happen and how you’d handle it is likely the most important factor in making your decision for how to follow, how to delay or how to opt out of vaccinations.
In the war surrounding vaccinations there are extreme sides. If everything that you see is the extreme side and you’re finding yourself stuck in the middle, wishing for a better option – it’s time to do more research on what you believe to be true wellness and how you’re going to approach the healthcare and well being of your family. If nothing else is certain – it’s that these decisions shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Do your diligence to make the most informed choice that you can.