To vaccinate or not to vaccinate

If you are old enough to read this blog (and your name is not Darren), you probably received a full complement of shots when you were a child. In these days and ages, however, more and more people are questioning the relevance of the current vaccination schedule. Some of our neighbors don’t vaccinate their children at all. Unlike our parents, who didn’t have much choice but to follow the doctor’s advice, we have access to a ton of information over the Internet and we are in a better position to ask ourselves if we want to vaccinate our children.

The funny thing is, Zak and I didn’t research this topic when our son was born, but when we had a dog. The dog people are having the same debate: are we damaging these youngsters by giving them so many shots in so little time? Are we unduly taxing their immune system before it has time to mature? Are we therefore creating autoimmune diseases? In humans, there is an added concern, the link between vaccination and autism, which the medical community denies (all research points to a coincidence) but many parents are adamant about.

Vaccines mean big business for the drug companies that manufacture them, and many people feel that the reason we give so many to our children has more to do with the lobbying of those big companies than with actual medical evidence. I could definitely believe this. But all these arguments got me frustrated and made my head turn. Nobody wants to knowingly give their children drugs that could harm them. But it’s really hard to figure out for oneself what is true and what is not, what is necessary and what is or could be damaging. Doctors are pretty much all pro-vaccination, but then, doctors have been wrong in the past.

One thing is for sure, though: if some people can “afford” not to vaccinate their children, it is because the huge majority of us do. And I find it a bit hypocritical (the term freeloader comes to mind). If I didn’t have my son vaccinated, chances are very low that he would catch polio, because there is so little incidence of this disease in the population. But if suddenly half of the population stopped vaccinating their children, chances are much better that polio would come back and people would regret their decision. So because I am glad to benefit from the vaccination of the majority of the population, ideologically I wouldn’t want to not vaccinate my child

Some people follow a limited vaccine protocol and give vaccines one by one instead of as a combination. It sounds logical: you don’t bombard them with as many intruders at a time so it’s easier for them to deal with. However, regular doctor’s offices usually won’t offer that possibility. People who opt for that have to look for a special clinic that will do it for them and charge a lot for the service. Of course, the few hundred dollars would be totally justified if we were guaranteed that it is actually better for our children. But it’s hard to spend that kind of money when you’re not convinced that there is actually any advantage. Besides, there are so many vaccines that if you were to give them all separately, wouldn’t you end up giving your child shots all the time?

I don’t know what the solution is. But on this one we went with the flow: we are following the usual schedule, and now that DS has received his 18-month vaccines, he is good to go until kindergarten. And I’m really glad about that. I’m also thankful that so far, he is showing no sign of autism. As for autoimmune diseases, only time will tell. We’re keeping our fingers crossed. And enjoying the fact that he doesn’t either have rubella, polio, mumps, etc.

2 Responses to “To vaccinate or not to vaccinate”

  1. Framboise Says:

    Là, je vais même me fendre du premier commentaire ! En Suisse a lieu une épidémie de rougeole (measles), et des vaccinations de masse ont eu lieu ces jours, p.ex. à l’Université de Lausanne, cf. un article officiel : http://www.bicweb.vd.ch/communique.aspx?pObjectID=286280. Sinon, c’est l’éviction pendant 21 jours, la période d’incubation. Dans des cas comme celui-ci, il me semble qu’on n’hésite plus à se faire vacciner et qu’on fait taire ses principes au profit de la communauté. Jusque là, la vaccination contre la rougeole n’était pas obligatoire, elle le devient presque.
    Mais sinon, je comprends l’embarras des parents qui réfléchissent à la question et doivent trancher, tant que l’Etat ne le fait pas.


  2. Sophie Says:

    Wow! Aux grands mots les grands moyens, j’imagine…Tu étais déjà vaccinée, toi? Perdre 21 jours d’une session d’université, ce n’est pas un choix que peuvent se permettre beaucoup d’étudiants…
    Je connais quelqu’un qui travaille dans un hôpital ici, et s’ils ne se font pas vacciner contre la grippe et qu’ils attrappent la grippe, ils ne peuvent pas prendre de congé de maladie! Ils doivent prendre leurs vacances. Alors qu’ils pourraient très bien se faire vacciner et attraper la grippe quand même…