Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

Thoughts about Vaccinations

by heather

Last week it hit the news that the research study that claimed that there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism had altered facts and statistics. So the MMR vaccine does not in fact cause autism. Wow, that’s embarrassing. Because of the MMR/Autism scare, there are thousands of kids who didn’t receive their vaccines, and as a result measles are actually becoming endemic in parts of Great Britain.
 Now I have a few mixed feelings about vaccinations. I believe that vaccinations can be a wonderful thing. Vaccinations have saved millions of lives. However they are not without their faults. If you read the information sheets that come with your vaccinations they list some pretty daunting possible side effects including seizures, neurological problems, permanent brain damage and death. These side effects are very rare and it is more likely that your child will be afflicted by the disease by not getting the vaccine (which for some of the diseases can also lead to neurological problems and death) than that they will be affected by rare severe side effects. Severe side effects are not as common as they once were, as vaccinations have been developed and improved through the years. But those risks are still there and every parents should be aware of them.
  Another thing that many people don’t realize is that vaccinations are not 100% prevention. Even if you get all of your vaccinations you can still contract the disease they are trying to prevent, it’s just not as likely. I had all of my vaccinations and I still came down with the measles when I was six. It stands out as the most physically miserable experience of my childhood. (I remember having sores every where and feeling too weak to even scratch them. And I remember all of my joints aching like I have never since experienced.) But if most of a population has been vaccinated against a disease, it makes it difficult for the disease to spread. (On a side note because I actually had the measles, my antibody levels against the measles are more than six times what the average immunized person has. I only know this because my doctor’s office, high school and county health department all lost the record of my booster shots and I had to lab work done to prove that I have in fact been immunized before they would let me start my first Pediatric nursing job.)
  I personally have had my kids vaccinated for everything except the flu. (Flu vaccines have proven to not go over well in my family, hospitalizing multiple relatives. For us it’s easier just to deal with the flu.) It’s something that I prayed about long and hard before deciding. I felt that the benefits outweighed the risks. But I can’t speak for every parent. Every child is different and their reactions may not be the same. I have an aunt that when she took her daughter into get her standard vaccinations and a strong spiritual experience that told her that she should not get her child vaccinated. No one know what would have happened if she had ignored that prompting, but she didn’t and her children have all been remarkably healthy. As a parent it’s part of our job to determine what is best for our own children, and if we follow the Lord, He will help us along the way. I believe that for the vast majority of people vaccinations are a great thing and I highly recommend them. They have helped to decrease the incidence of many diseases that have been known to maim and kill untold numbers of children. But if a parent told me that they had prayed about it and strongly felt that their child should not be vaccinated, I would not argue with them.


8 Responses to “Thoughts about Vaccinations”

  1. Jocelyn Christensen says:

    On the flip side of that…I've had my doctor call us in to get flu shots when they already had them….they didn't check their record or record it properly or something…so as the parent I have to keep track of it more closely than the health care providers, and not assume that they've actually read the record before they give shots!

  2. Heather says:

    You always have to be your child's advocate, because you can't always rely on the doctors, nurses and the rest of the health care system to do so. (Not that that is the case most of the time, but unfortunately it does happen.)

  3. Shannon says:

    I agree with you that vaccinations are there for our benefit. What do you think about delaying them or spreading out the schedule a little more than the AAP recommends? As a nurse, does that make your work harder? I just don't like putting so much into such little bodies all at once, but I know it's ultimately better for them than the alternative. It's kind of a two-edged sword.

  4. Heather says:

    I don't think a change in the vaccination schedule would personally effect me that much. As for spreading them out, it does make it far easier to identify which vaccine caused a reaction if you aren't giving 5 at once. However, the more times you have to bring a child in for shots, the less convenient it becomes for the family. It turns every check-up into a traumatic experience and for many families out there when health care becomes less convenient they stop participating. It's hard enough to get some parents to come in for the vaccination schedule as it is, if it becomes more difficult many may just give up. If a parent wants to take the extra effort to spread them out, as long as it gets done, I don't see a problem with it, but of course I would check with your pediatrician before making any such changes.

  5. deerie65775 says:

    This is something I struggles with when my children were young. I read all the negative things about vaccines. And I remember that polio break-out we had about 15-20 years ago — and the people in Louisiana (?, I cannot remember all the details) who contracted this had HAD their vaccinations.
    And I think to myself, I had mumps, I had chicken pox.. all with no serious complications (although those can happen, too).
    As an educator, it seems like cases of ADD and ADHD are on the rise, and I often wonder if it is from the vaccines.. after all, there are funds set aside for children damaged by vaccines, so the risk is REAL.
    BUT, on the other hand, I expect my boys to serve missions and they will need to be all up to date on their vaccines. That was my deciding factor.

  6. Heather says:

    @deerie- You may not have had any serious complications from the mumps, but if you were a man it would drastically reduce your sperm count for life. A few generations ago when boys contracted the mumps they were told that they would never have children. And because you have been vaccinated it's likely that your case was less severe than it would have been otherwise.

    It's my opinion (which is only worth that) that ADHD is on the rise, for several reasons, none of which I think is related to vaccines. 1. People are more aware of it and it is more likely to come up as a diagnosis. 2. Kids are spending a lot more time in front of the TV and video games. 3. Kids are used to their world being instantaneous and have little patience when it isn't. 4. Parents are busier and sometimes kids have to act to get attention.

    As for the church and vaccinations, I actually volunteered at the MTC in Provo to give missionaries their shots when I was a nursing student. And I think it is interesting that the LDS Church has spent a few million dollars on vaccinations in 3rd world countries. I think that says something if the Church leaders think it is important enough to spend tithing money on it.

    And yes, there surely is a risk and it is very real, but I think the benefits outway it.

  7. Michelle says:

    Do you think vaccinations are interfered with taking medications. My son is on Nexium and I’m nervous about the vaccinations while taking Nexium. Any concerns?

    • heather says:

      Vaccinations and Nexium have no interactions. However, kids with reflux are more prone to respiratory illnesses, and vaccines can prevent some respiratory illnesses. So please, vaccinate your child.

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