I applaud parents who take it upon themselves to get all the details and make informed decisions about their children's health. Some fellow Moms and I recently exchanged ideas on the subject. I admit to being sort of a lemming when it comes to medical norms. I've always simply followed Dr.'s order. With my second born Nikke, I was a little more pro-vaccination because I knew she'd be around her older brother a lot. Since he's in school all week he's more exposed to germy kids, and hence she'd be exposed by him.
Most physicians, backed by high brow research and the CDC, maintain that there is no connection between immunizations and autism. They insist that maintaining the typical vaccination schedule ensures the health of all children. So why does the debate live on? For a portion of parents, the notion of their little ones receiving potent and frequent exposure to serious illnesses just doesn't make sense. Science journalist Seth Mnookin, shared his perspective with Forbes magazine at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases, attended by more than 1,600 participants from 58 countries,“The debate isn’t really about vaccines and vaccine safety at all, but about a series of other issues,” said Mnookin, who teaches science writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is the author of The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy. “When we talk about vaccine safety and effectiveness, most of the time we’re talking about anxieties parents have about caring for their children. We haven’t found ways to adequately address some of these issues.”
Adding to parental trepidation is ABC's recent report of an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General which found that many providers of immunizations meant for low-income children don't store the vaccines at proper temperatures, potentially rendering them ineffective and placing children at risk for contracting serious diseases. According to ABC News, "Inspectors visited the offices of 45 providers in five states who offered free immunizations as part of the government's Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. Nationwide, about 44,000 offices and clinics participate in the program. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services pay for the vaccines, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distribute them. The investigation found that 76 percent of the providers stored the vaccines at temperatures that were either too hot or too cold. They also found that 13 providers stored expired vaccines along with nonexpired vaccines. In addition, they said they found that none of the providers properly managed the vaccines according to VFC program requirements."
Parental paranoia peaks in those first few days after childbirth. There is lots to fear, both real and imagined, when you're a new parent to a tiny, vulnerable baby. It's only natural for fresh Moms and Dads, especially first timers, to obsess over their child's health and well being. Even after your pediatrician assuages your fears it's easy to be shaken by a debate that has not slowed down in the media. If you have questions about the safety of vaccinations go straight to the source. Once you've found a pediatrician that you can trust set up an appointment to discuss your concerns. If possible schedule a sit down that is separate from your baby's wellness dates. In fact, while interviewing pediatric physicians you should discuss the topic; comparing differing philosophies can help you find a doctor who's beliefs are aligned with yours. For more information on immunizing your child, and to review current, past and alternative vaccine schedules visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/