Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vaccines: My Story

West received his first vaccination, DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis). My pure and perfect little baby is now contaminated with things like aluminum and formaldehyde. According to the FDA, more than 30 micrograms of aluminum injected into a newborn at one time could be toxic. The aluminum in the Daptacel brand of the DTaP vaccine is 1300 micrograms (Sears). Somehow vaccine manufacturers are exempt from FDAs 25 microgram limit of injected aluminum at one time. And, The Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Consumer Product Safety Commission all list formaldehyde as a carcinogen and state that it can cause kidney damage and genetic damage (Sears). Yikes!

I asked the doctor, "Should I nurse him during the shot?" I was halfway thinking of my breast milk like a super power that would save him from all the poisons. He replied, "No, better to reward him with a feeding after the shot." And so, I lay West down on the crinkly, white paper and looked into his eyes. He looked up at me and smiled. I told him, "West, you're going to get a shot. It will hurt, but I have done a lot of research and feel like this is the best decision that I can make for you right now." And then, the Doctor stuck the needle right into his little thigh. West's face flared red and he let out a helpless cry. I swooped him up as the doctor put a band aide over the blood leaking out from the injection spot. I plopped down on the nearest chair to feed him. "Let me know if you need this room. I can move if you like," I asked the doctor. "No, take your time," he said.

West nursed for a little bit, but he seemed fine. I was not fine. I hated seeing him get hurt. One of the reasons for a home birth was to avoid traumatizing events like this one. Babies only minutes old are pricked with a Hepatitis B shot. Hep B is sexually transmitted. I don't think that a newborn is at risk of that. Up until now, West hasn't had anything traumatizing happen to him. I believe that his calm, protected birth at home is why he never cries. Will this shot change all that?

I started researching vaccines before West was born and continued my research up until the morning before his first vaccination. I had already declined the Hep B. I decided to also decline the Rotavirus and Polio vaccines because the Rotavirus is treated by drinking fluids and it is a new vaccine which makes me nervous. Since the Homeland Security Act, some trial periods for new vaccines can be only two weeks (Hicks, Phipps). Polio is practically nonexistent, and so I feel comfortable postponing that shot until he is three-years old. I decided to space out the Haemophilus and Pneumococcal vaccines from the DTaP to give his body a chance to absorb the aluminum and formaldehyde before receiving another dose.

I came to these decisions by reading The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears. I had a private vaccine consultation with Dr. Sanford C. Newmark down at Whole Child Wellness. I spoke with West's first pediatrician to get his input. He didn't seem to be taking my concerns seriously, and so I ended up switching pediatricians. I went to a vaccine talk by chiropractors Dr. Kristine Hicks and Dr. Colin Phipps. Neither one of them have vaccinated their children. I spoke with Dr. Daphne Miller at her Family Practice and got her input. After all my research and discussions with different doctors, I created my own alternate vaccine schedule.

My main concerns with vaccines are the ingredients in them and their impact on West's immune system. So my vaccine schedule looks at the brands of vaccines used at my pediatrician's office and the amount of aluminum and other toxins in each shot. I am also not giving West more than two vaccines or shots per month to avoid stressing his immune system (Hicks, Phipps). Except, the DTaP is actually three vaccines in one shot, but I had no choice in the matter. I wanted him to be vaccinated for Pertussis, but Pertussis only comes with Diphtheria and Tetanus attached. I would prefer a Pertussis shot alone because there is only five cases of Diphtheria each year and sometimes years go by without any cases (Sears). There is only 50 cases of Tetanus a year and only one of those cases was a child under five years old (Sears).

I was also informed by Dr. Newmark not to give Tylenol or Motrin preemptively before a shot or even before a fever. Tylenol is digested by the liver and takes effort by the body's immune system. When getting vaccinated, it's a good idea to have a healthy body with nothing else taxing the immune system.

West was a little needy for the rest of the day, but he didn't get a fever and he hardly fussed. But, I did see him turn red and cry a little in his sleep. His sleeping was also very fragmented. He slept only about twenty minutes at a time. On day two, he slept practically all day and had larger than normal spit-ups. I scanned him over constantly looking for more serious side effects like seizures or lowered consciousness (Center for Disease Control). The third and fourth days, his napping was short again and hasn't gone back to the way it was before the shot. On the fifth day, I am noticing more crying and general fussing. On the seventh day, sleeping appears to be back to normal.

For me, vaccinating is deciding to take the risks of the vaccines over the very small risk that he might get one of the diseases. Although I am making a well informed decision to vaccinate West, I don't feel good about it. I am injecting him with poison and I could be compromising his immune system so much that he will have other health problems later in life (Hicks, Phipps). The only thing that comforts me right now is what my friend Amy said about her son getting the Rotavirus in Vietnam, "When he was sick over there, I would have given anything to have had him vaccinated." I think that I would feel the same way if I didn't vaccinate West and he got one of the diseases. We are not vaccinating West for Rotavirus, but I'd consider it if we travel to a remote area of the world.

Next month, West goes in for the Haemophilus and Pneumococcal vaccines.

Vaccine Talk. 'Questioning Vaccines' is an informal lecture presented by Dr. Colin Phipps and Dr. Hicks.

talk will be held at More Mojo Studios (1347 Church Street, located at the corner of Church and Clipper) from 10:00 a.m. to noon, on Sunday September 13, 2009.

Tickets are $10.00 at the door. Please call More Mojo (415.821.6656) in advance to give us a heads up with your intended attendance in order to support us in preparing for the number of people who will be present.

For more information or if you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at 415.821.6656.


Anonymous said...

I realize you spent a lot of time agonizing over this, but I still don't understand why anyone would listen to what chiropractors have to say about immunology or pediatrics. Chiropractors are trained in manipulation of musculaskelator systems, not medicine.

Also, you say the chiropractors didn't vaccinate their kids; did you ask the pediatricians if they did?

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the above anonymous, especially on the chiropractor note. (Then again, I may just be biased because my poor mother was injured by a chiropractor who couldn't recognize back disease...hmm.)

Plus, the reason that there aren't cases of polio, etc. is because of vaccines. If people stop vaccinating, they take advantage of everyone else that does, to the detriment of those who can't get vaccines because of (legit) allergies to ingredients.

Also, water is the "treatment" for Rotavirus because of dehydration -- it treats a symptom, not the illness. I'd rather not get to that point, thankyouverymuch.

Anonymous said...

I'm not the original poster. My own family doctor did not vaccinate "fully". For school entrance, kids need only a small portion of the vaccines offered to kids these days. To the original poster: I think you should know that there are LOTS of children born at home who are not even a bit calm (mine included). Full disclosure: my children are receiving vaccines on a delayed schedule and will have all of their school-required vaccines in time for Kindergarten.

Anonymous said...

Many chiropractors are actually well versed in nutrition more than any typical doctor or nurse.

They research nutrition and health seemingly more than doctors, at least the good chiropractors do.

I would listen to them and doctors, and research

It's a hot topic, but polio is rare because of vaccines, stopping them will bring it back. It's a fine line ~ Polio is historically devastating

Anonymous said...

Actually, polio cases had dropped majorly on their own by the time the polio vaccine hit the market.
And, if you read up on Vitamin C, it had been used successfully to treat polio, but unfortunately that information came to light the same year as the polio vaccine.

Anonymous said...

This is a fantastic article, which I think is a must for any parent agonizing over immunization issues:

Having been un-vaccinated, I suffered through measles as a child (and complications from that well into my teens) and then I got pertussis as an adult... I obviously have a differing opinion about vaccination than what seems to be "popular" these days.

Anonymous said...

All the comments about not listening to chiropractors obviously no NOTHING about what chiropractic is. I respect your choice to research and although I do not immunize my children at all I am glad that you have made an informed choice as to what is best for your child. Chiropractors no more about the body then any specialist because they treat interference in the Central Nerve System (not back and neck pain, that is just a symptom of a much bigger problem)--- that controls the entire body (everything) so they have much more extensive training then a regular MD. Not all chiropractors are the same and some only want to treat car accidents and that time of thing but if you find a reliable whole body well care DC then you are in great hands! By the way I am not a chiropractor just an intellegent informed parent!

Anonymous said...

Tetanus is usually contracted from intrusion by soil microorganisms. Would West ever step on or get scratched by a rusty nail?

The reason for "so few cases" of it in North America is precisely because of a good vaccination program. I suspect those who got tetanus, weren't vaccinated, or lapsed on their booster shots.

People in Haiti are not so lucky. Tetanus happens there all the time. My friend was there to teach school children, ended up helping at hospitals after the earthquake. He saw cases of tetanus (recognized as "lock jaw") and yes, those people died from it.

If you are really going to disregard the opinion of doctors on things such as vaccination, I would suggest taking at least an immunology course first. A basic immunology course would provide far, far more enlightening information on how our immune systems work, how vaccines work, what type of immunoglobulins we produce as a result of vaccination, and would let you weigh the risks and benefits far better.

I have nothing against chiropractors. I just don't ask an electrician about computer problems, even though both, um, electrical. Well, technically the computer is electronic (a higher level). Thus the same goes for general health/wellness/nutrition/exercise versus immunology. :)

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