method of lizzy

preservations… for posterity

The Vaccine Book

Calvin is now a year old and we are due for an appointment with the pediatrician. The question of vaccines always comes up at each visit. In preparation, I sat down to research the available vaccines and decide if there were any that I wanted to give to my son. Most parents vaccinate according to the AAP’s schedule, but after doing some research when I was pregnant I decided that there was no reason for that. I try not to be too cavalier about my decision to delay or selectively vaccinate, but the truth is that I found that many vaccines are unneccessary and could have harmful side effects. My son is at especially low-risk considering that he is breastfed and not in daycare.

How do you go about muddling through the available research on vaccines? The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears is a worthwhile addition to any new parent’s library. Sears answers the following questions about the AAP-recommended vaccines:

  • What is the disease?
  • Is the disease common?
  • Is the disease serious?
  • Is the disease treatable?
  • When is the vaccine given?
  • How is the vaccine made?
  • What ingredients are in the vaccine? (and, are any of these controversial?)
  • What are the side effects of the vaccine?
  • And finally, the ultimate question: Should you give your baby the vaccine? Sears presents the case from both sides of the argument. He then gives his own opinion.

In the end, Dr. Sears is predominantly pro-vaccine. For instance, Chapter 1 is devoted to the HIB vaccine. HIB is virtually eradicated in the United States – only 25 cases per year. It is a serious disease with a 5% fatality rate and 25% chance of brain damage. However, it is treatable, especially when caught early. This vaccine has one of the safest side effect profiles, however it does have a controversial ingredient (aluminum). On top of this, there is also concern that this vaccine may contribute to juvenile diabetes.

For me, the decision not to vaccinate for HIB was a no-brainer. I found this to be one of the easier vaccine decisions. However, Sears doesn’t share my point of view. He concludes Chapter 1 by stating ” Since the disease is so rare, HIB isn’t the most critical vaccine. But it’s definitely high on the Top Ten list.” Umm, Dr. Sears – I only counted twelve vaccines on the AAP list. The “Top Ten” comment is relatively meaningless, especially when you have similar comments about the other vaccines.

Despite that, I recommend Sears’ book because it has fairly up-to-date information on the currently-recommended vaccinations. (Sidenote:  there is another popular vaccination book, “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations.” Unfortunately this book is rather out of date).  As a delayed/selective or sometimes even a non-vaxer, I appreciate Sears presentation of reasons not to vaccinate. More often than not, this has been the route that I choose to take. Sears also provides an alternative schedule for those who chose to selectively vaccinate. It still contains some of the no-brainers on my list (HIB, Roatvirus) but this might be a good choice for the parent who is unwilling to completely forego vaccinations.

If you are still having trouble deciding what to do, I recommend perusing the CDC Pink Books.

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September 13, 2009 Posted by | all things baby, crunchy, health, parenting | 2 Comments