I Vaccinated My Baby: Was It a Mistake?

Being a Mom 76

Toward the end of my pregnancy, one of the (many) things my husband and I discussed and researched was whether or not we would allow our baby to be vaccinated.

We had friends with strong feelings on both sides of the fence. Many in the holistic community felt that most, if not all, vaccinations for children were not only archaic, but dangerous. I heard and read about how vaccines can damage children's immune systems, cause allergic reactions and have even been linked to conditions such as autism and MS. Scary stuff. 

On the other hand, we had friends who felt very strongly that not only were vaccinations completely safe and effective, they were potentially life-saving

There was certainly much to consider.

We opted not to have our baby vaccinated in the hospital when she was born. We waited until her two week visit with her new pediatrician to talk with the doc face-to-face the pros and cons of vaccinating before making any decisions.

What we learned is that children in this country still contract -- and even die from -- diseases that are preventable by vaccine. We mistakenly believe that whooping cough (also known as pertussis) and measles are diseases suffered only by children in old movies and television shows (remember the episode of "Little House On the Prairie" when poor Mary and Laura Ingalls got the measles?). In actuality, there has been a resurgence in instances of both diseases in the past few years. In fact, 2011 saw the highest number of measles cases in the US in 15 years. 

Our daughter's pediatrician explained that as fewer children become vaccinated, these numbers will no doubt continue to rise. She also said that the parents who opt not to vaccinate their children are -- whether consciously or not -- relying on those parents who do to protect their own children. In other words, as long as the majority of children in this country are vaccinated, we are less likely to have outbreaks of these diseases in epidemic proportion. But what if everyone stopped vaccinating?

At the end of our investigation, we made the decision to vaccinate our daughter. And we felt good about it. At the time we made our decision, I was just a few days out from a major cancer diagnosis and I wasn't in the mood to take chances with anyone's health, especially my daughter's. 

A couple of weeks ago, we took our daughter to the pediatrician for her one year check-up. During that visit, she received the scheduled vaccinations for chicken pox as well as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). We were told that some children experience an allergic reaction to these vaccinations; and that if ours did, it would likely occur 10 to 14 days after she received the shots.

Well, exactly 10 days later, our daughter started to show signs that something was wrong. She had a low grade fever and was very fussy. We attributed this either to teething or the cold she had picked up at daycare. However, when the symptoms persisted and she began to develop a rash, we realized that she was likely having a reaction to one of the vaccinations. By the third day, she had spots all over her face and body, and she was miserable (as were we). 

We confirmed with her doctor that our daughter was indeed experiencing a reaction to one of the vaccinations she received. I felt terrible, and began to question whether or not I had erred in allowing her to have the shots. I was almost afraid to tell my crunchy anti-vaccination friends about our girl's side effects, as I knew I would inevitably hear some (kinder) version of "I told you so."

As parents, my husband and I made what we felt was the best decision we could make about our daughter's health, based on the information available to us at the time. We did not blindly agree to take a step that would impact our child's health and well-being without thoroughly investigating the facts on both sides of the debate. And I don't regret it. Even though my daughter had a few fussy, blotchy days and I felt terrible watching her experience discomfort, I knew I'd feel worse if she contracted a potentially deadly disease that could have been prevented with a vaccination.

Now, I respect those friends who choose not to have their children immunized, and understand that they, too, are making decisions they feel are best for the future health and well-being of their children. And I would certainly never deride any parent for making choices different than my own. 

I'll no doubt get shit for deciding to vaccinate my child, and be accused of exposing her to a virus to which she might not otherwise have been exposed. My hope, however, is to start a respectful, informed dialogue among the mom community. After all, we all love our children and want what's best for them. We want to protect them from harm and sickness and discomfort as much as possible. And we need to stick together, us moms. Because parenting isn't easy.

All of that being said, I'd love to hear from you.

Did you choose to vaccinate your children? Why, or why not? And do you regret your decision?


Images, top to bottom: Brooke Kelly Photography, Joanna Montgomery




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turna... turnandburn04

Needed to be vaccinated. MMR alone is the cause of close to 85% of the autism cases in the US, there is research to prove that and I also have personal experience with 2 separate cases. The Hep B vaccine has aborted fetal tissue in it, that is clearly started on the cdc website. This is all besides the fact that all vaccines contain fillers usually consisting of heavy chemicals and toxins such a formaldehyde and industrial antifreeze (proplyn glycol).

My children will never be vaccinated, the risks far outway the benefits. We do however have ways of combating whatever we would be faced with healthwise with natural medicine. (and no its not tea bags and voodoo) for those of you who don't understand natural medicine.

Flori... Floridamom96

Every parent should do what they feel is right for their children. Period.

Jessy Roos

Here are my thoughts:

A philosophy professor in the States tells a story about how he starts each new semester with his students by informing them that they do not have a right to their opinion. It sounds obnoxious, rude, arrogant, and a bunch of other things to say that to a group of people. But then he started to explain, and the more I think about it, the more I have come to agree with him.

In objective matters, matters of science and research and the like, not everybody has a right to their opinion if it is not based in fact. It is an opinion, and nothing more, and because someone has an opinion, it does not put them on the same level as an expert in the field.

Applying this thought to vaccinations, I truly appreciate how hard parents struggle with making these decisions. It shows genuine care and concern for their children. However, when these decisions are based on research done on the internet, and come from flawed science and research, it is not a truly reasoned and rational decision. It is letting someone who is not in fact a qualified expert in a field convince you that the existing studies and science are wrong and should be questioned.

I think it is healthy to trust the medical professionals and scientists in our lives because, frankly, they know better than us.

nonmember avatar BostonBob

What is "archaic" is getting a disease like Polio or Smallpox because you were keeping your child "safe".

Unless you have a background in epidemiology, you aren't really making an informed choice, but rather relying on rumor and hearsay.

And worst case, if you don't vaccinate, you are endangering the health of the rest of us by allowing these diseases to potentially spread.

nikki... nikkivolkov

I 100% vaccinate. I get flu and pneumonia shots yearly. My daughter is vaccinated as well. I feel sorry for people who are making uninformed decisions not to vaccinate their children and are putting them into lifethreatening situations. Why would you not want to protect your babies from measles or chicken pox or small pox? These epidemics killed thousands of little angels in the past before we knew how to prevent them. Now that we can, why wouldn't you choose to protect your children? I don't understand the fearmongering of autism when there is no proof of correlation much less causation. Doesn't the fear of death weigh higher than the virtually non existent risks? I know I'm going to get backlash from people on this comment. But really, don't we all want the best quality of life for our kids? To me vaccination is the only way to go.

Mothe... MotherGrace

I feel pretty passionately about vaccinated my daughter for one simple reason: I live in Houston, Texas. Almost everyday, I encounter people from all over the world, some here legally, some illegally, some permanently, some just for a visit. Not every country has the same vaccination requirements/schedules required here. That means that if I choose NOT to vaccinate my child, I am potentially introducing her to a cess pool of harmful, deadly diseases, especially for the ones she's too young to be vaccinated for. Not vaccinating my daughter is on par with child abuse.

nikki... nikkivolkov

Mothergrace, we're in Houston too. I totally agree with you about people from other countries. I work in hospitality and my husband is in healthcare so we interact with so many different people that you never know what you bring home (even though we both are big on hygiene before handling baby girl). Glad Texans mothers are making the right choices :)

Wendy Hanson

good thoughts, jessy roos

turna... turnandburn04

I would like to point out that not only are my decisions far from uninformed, but they are backed by over 10 years of research, not only from doctors on the natural and medical side but also from my own experience in the naturopath field. Please do not assume because I and many others like me made the decision to not vaccinate that we are uninformed, or ever have anything less than the our childrens best interests at heart.

Flowe... FlowerMama100

Vaccines are the most well-studied medical intervention we have, and have been studied for decades (not just one).  The major article linking MMR to autism was retracted by the journal that published it due to the shoddy, unethical research practices used by the primary investigator.  I highly doubt the general public reads hundreds of journal articles, comparing methodology, patient sampking, and all the other factors involved in a study that researchers and physicians do.  We are so lucky in this country that diptheria, pneumonia, measles, and polio aren't major killers, that we can write them off so easily.  So many parents around the world would be thrilled to have such easy access to vaccines.

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