Under-vaccinating your child by choice?
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|Thu, 05-22-2008 - 1:09pm|
Under-vaccinating your child by choice?
By safeBABY • May 22nd, 2008 • Category: BLOGS, Children's Health, Infectious Disease, Prevention, Vaccinations
The Centers for Disease Control issued a statement that indicated 20 percent of our 2-year-olds are under-vaccinated. ABC News and others reported on the announcement, saying that kids are missing vaccines but, also, that they are receiving vaccinations at the wrong time and the wrong interval.
But did they miss an important angle?
Is it that parents simply aren’t taking their kids in for vaccinations, that doctors are inept in administering vaccinations properly - or is there a groundswell of parents opting not to vaccinate their children?
Read on for more vaccine information …
Incomplete vaccinations used to be most common among poorer children without health insurance, according to a November 2007 New York Times story. But the creation of the CDC’s Vaccines for Children Program in the 1990s helped end that by providing free vaccines to kids under age 18. The Times said it’s now more common for kids of middle- or upper-class families to go without vaccinations. These parents are opting out of state-mandated vaccinations on the grounds of “philosophical”, “religious” or even “medical” oppositions. Click here for a list of legal exemptions by state.
But, the reality is, this is not a clear-cut issue.
Those who protest the use of vaccines do so on a number of issues:
* Personal liberty. The idea of mandatory vaccinations is a prickly issue for some. These parents view vaccines as a medical decision that they should have the right to make on their child’s behalf.
* Side effects. Some vaccines can cause side effects like fever, soreness and, in rare cases, allergic reactions. Consider the fact that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Here is a list of vaccines and associated injuries that are potentially covered by the program. It doesn’t help to know that the FDA issued a warning letter to Merck this week, saying it had found 49 safety issues in its main vaccine manufacturing plant.
* Potential link to autism and other diseases. Anti-vaccine groups are making connections between the increase of chronic disease and disability among U.S. children and vaccines (a lot of focus has been on the mumps/measles/rubella vaccine and autism, though reliable studies have yet to confirm the link). The concern is over the preservatives used in vaccines. A subset of the CDC website is dedicated to questions about potential links between vaccines and autism.
* Too many vaccines. In Maryland, for instance, young children are to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B, which is typically transmitted through sexual contact or unsafe needle use - not a likely scenario for most kids. Conspiracy theorists say that public health officials are too closely tied with the drug companies and are, in effect, pushing their products. Here’s a link to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ schedule of vaccinations and a page on the safety of multiple vaccines.
Those who advocate in favor of vaccinations say that:
* Vaccines have eradicated many illnesses. Death rates for 13 diseases that can be prevented by childhood vaccinations saw a sharp drop according to a 2007 Centers for Disease Control Study. Here is the CDC’s website on vaccines, with lots of statistics, studies and other information.
* It’s not about personal liberty. Your decision not to vaccinate can impact the health of others your child comes in contact with. The argument is that you’re infringing on others’ liberties in the event that your child causes an outbreak.
If you’re on the fence (and most parents are), here are some tips from the National Vaccine Information Center, a not-for-profit advocating for vaccine safety and informed consent protections (I’d describe them as anti-vaccine):
* Ask your doctor for materials explaining the benefits/risk of each vaccine they’re recommending. They are required by law to provide the information before your child is vaccinated. Here’s a link to the Institute of Vaccine Safety at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
* Ask your doctor to provide the informational insert provided by the drug company that developed the vaccine. Here’s a link to manufacturers insert sheets posted online. Another good source of information is Dr. Bob Sears, author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child
* Ask your doctor for a copy of his records on the specific vaccine given to your child. This should include the vaccine manufacturer’s name and the lot number (Your doctor is required by law to keep a permanent record of all vaccinations given).
So, where do you fall in? Do you choose to get all the shots? Some? None?