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Overwhelmed by the vaccine stuff.

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I read so many books on birth, sleep, BFing, AP, etc, but the one area I procrastinated on was vaccines. They seemed overwhelming to me. And so I found a ped who had her own slightly delayed schedule, and felt okay with that. But really, I'm not okay with it, because I'd rather know the facts myself versus simply going along with what one doctor says.

What's the first step to learning more? The Sears Vaccine book? I don't have a ton of time to Google and sort through a hundred websites because DDs naps are short. My DD just turned one, and I feel like maybe it's too late? Am I locked into the cycles of vaccines or is it not too late to form an opinion?

I feel bad I wasn't more informed before she was born.
post #2 of 36
First. Relax. You have time. Tell your doctor that you want to delay everything by a few months and you'll let her know if/when you are ready to start again.

Then go to your local public library and see what they have on vaccines. If you want to just go through some info quickly a book is a good place to start. I'll let other people chime in with book suggestions: my library as the one by Aviva Jill Romm. I'd read/skim at least two books. Then if you have further questions you can start doing some online research on the particular illness and vaccines where you want more info.
post #3 of 36
The Dr. Sears book is probably a good place to start. He does a good break down of each vaccine/disease pair. I don't agree with his conclusions (vax anyway), but his writing is very straightforward.
post #4 of 36
i feel the same exact way! I completely procrastinated learning about vaccinations even though I was fully prepared to breastfeed, cosleep, cloth diaper etc.. but thinking about vaccinations are so overwhelming! when my son was born we still didn't form a concrete opinion, the hospital staff kept asking about the hep b vaccine and I kept stalling. when it was time to go I buckled in and let them give it to him, mostly because I didnt know anything about it!... then i went througha handfull of doctors who I hated.. i different one each month and I always caved in and let them give him the vaccines.. and it always felt wrong to me. at four months I finally said no, and sought out a doctor who i'm comfortable with and one who is confortable with my choice and I absolutley love her! DH is in nursing school so sometimes he'll come home and talk about how "maybe we should look into vaccinating DS because the text book says this and that..." and when we talk to our doctor about it she always tells us that relax... and just continue to nurse, and wash his hands, and we can always start them up again later if we want to.
post #5 of 36
You can always stop vaccinating.

We vaccinate and we are glad we do.

I think that ultimately, you can read and read but it comes down to this: do you think the CDC, AAP, World Health Organization, etc. etc. are lying, but that organizations that promote alternative health are telling the truth? Or perhaps vice-versa?

Because unless you subscribe to, and have the training to read, scientific journals, it will be hard to separate facts from lies and myths. There is a lot of contradictory information out there, so once you choose whom to believe, then you can go with it.

I don't think Sears' schedule makes sense. He has you giving infant vaccines to toddlers who are half past the danger. He seems to think that once a child is bigger, these absolutely microscopic amounts are going to be better integrated, even though most kids eat more lead on a piece of dirt at the park than can be found in a vaccine.

I think it makes sense to not vaccinate, if you think the CDC, the AAP, and the WHO are just totally lying and these are either not effective, or dangerous, or both.

It makes sense to vaccinate for all the main diseases if you think vaccines are generally safe and helpful. But then you'd have to explicitely NOT believe the anti-vaccine side.

So, I'd start by deciding whom you trust for your information.
post #6 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
You can always stop vaccinating.

We vaccinate and we are glad we do.

I think that ultimately, you can read and read but it comes down to this: do you think the CDC, AAP, World Health Organization, etc. etc. are lying, but that organizations that promote alternative health are telling the truth? Or perhaps vice-versa?

Because unless you subscribe to, and have the training to read, scientific journals, it will be hard to separate facts from lies and myths. There is a lot of contradictory information out there, so once you choose whom to believe, then you can go with it.

I don't think Sears' schedule makes sense. He has you giving infant vaccines to toddlers who are half past the danger. He seems to think that once a child is bigger, these absolutely microscopic amounts are going to be better integrated, even though most kids eat more lead on a piece of dirt at the park than can be found in a vaccine.

I think it makes sense to not vaccinate, if you think the CDC, the AAP, and the WHO are just totally lying and these are either not effective, or dangerous, or both.

It makes sense to vaccinate for all the main diseases if you think vaccines are generally safe and helpful. But then you'd have to explicitely NOT believe the anti-vaccine side.

So, I'd start by deciding whom you trust for your information.
I would have disagreed with this at one time. My plan was to avoid this problem by just reading all of the studies that each side used and judging for myself. But then you have to find out who funded the studies, who was involved, who they may have worked with/been associated with before, what incentives are there for the researchers or publishers, etc. It's enough to make a person crazy. Because the truth is, those issues apply equally to both sides. It can definitely make you want to bury your head in the sand. Maybe just take one bit of info at a time? Like start with ONE vaccine. Perhaps one of the ones your dr wants to give next. That way it's not more and more stuff piling on.
post #7 of 36
Sometimes I think the issue of taking on one disease at a time is a much easier place to start than tackling the entire issue of vaccinating in general. For instance, take one of the vaccines that your dc is supposed to receive next, and look into the disease itself. Scroll through this thread and you will find an excellent list of questions to start educating yourself on each disease. It's a bit of legwork, but worth it!

It is never too late to stop vaccinating. I stopped my tetanus boosters in my 20's, and most adults aren't UTD on their boosters. So, no, it is never too late to end that cycle.
post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post

I think it makes sense to not vaccinate, if you think the CDC, the AAP, and the WHO are just totally lying and these are either not effective, or dangerous, or both.

It makes sense to vaccinate for all the main diseases if you think vaccines are generally safe and helpful. But then you'd have to explicitely NOT believe the anti-vaccine side.

So, I'd start by deciding whom you trust for your information.
Well, notwithstanding the more obvious flaw in that argument, the issue is a lot more complex than this either-or portrayal. For one thing, even the authorities you mentioned can give flawed, tainted, or otherwise questionable information. And second of all, healthy skepticism is not the same thing as calling somebody a liar. The issue is more nuanced than that.

To the OP: Just as you can always stop vaxing, you can also always start vaxing.

As a delayed, selective vaxer, I have found that the healthiest approach is to accept that all sources--from pro to anti to everything in between--on this issue are biased. Read, read, read with an ever-critical eye. I truly wish I had a simpler answer, but this is not a simple issue.

I'm hoping that Emmeline chimes in here soon with her comprehensive list of questions to ask about each vaccine....

Good luck with your decision!
post #9 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post


So, I'd start by deciding whom you trust for your information.
This really makes sense to me, and it's where I'm at now. There's a LOT of info to sift through, and to be honest, a lot of shrillness, emotionality and finger-pointing on both sides that I find hard to deal with. I guess you could get a Pubmed subscription and sift through all the pertinent studies. They're not fun to read, but it's possible to do. But, as EdnaMarie points out, it really depends on who you trust.
post #10 of 36
One of the Ah Ha! moments for me was when I started comparing what the CDC tells parents with what the CDC tells medical professionals. To put it gently...they have two different sets of facts.

The CDC Pink Book is very pro-vaccine. But the information provided, if you take the time to compare it with the material offered to the general public, doesn't match up.

So, given that sort of sloppy inaccuracy, or planned inaccuracy, or outright deception (everyone who looks into it can come to their own conclusions), do you trust the CDC?

I've been studying vaccines for about 10 years now. I'll admit that I came to it with an anti-vaccine bias, but no particular certainty. The more I dig, the less I trust the "authorities."

Take, for example, the matter of the herd immunity argument. If we stop vaccinating, the diseases will come back. I read the actual studies the CDC put together to demonstrate this. There are two major studies (PM me if you want the references). They don't agree with each other. Many of the numbers don't match up between the two studies. One of the studies even has a strong statement of disagreement within the study by what was, apparently, a minority within the authors group.

How did I track down the studies? I started from the TV clip showing J. Gerberding saying that 33,000 children a year would die if we stopped vaccinating. I thought that the specificity of that number was sort of weird. So I looked around to see if I could find out where the number came from. I found a breakdown of the projected deaths from each disease on the Every Child by Two website. They didn't reference the actual sources either. (this has been another clue for me, the lack of scientific references on the CDC parents info, the lack of scientific references on many of the supposedly science based web-sites, why don't they show us the science?) Anyway, to make a long story short, I eventually found a news story about one of the studies, which also talked about the earlier study. The news story claimed that the two studies supported one another. So, do they? No, not particularly. They both indicate that vaccines save lives, so there is that much agreement. But the numbers are massively different on several of the diseases, so much so that any thoughtful reader would be left in doubt as to the honesty of the news story.

Where am I going with this? I doubt if the person who wrote the news story actually sat down with the two papers, compared the numbers, looked up the references, researched the diseases. Nope. They took the press release the CDC handed out, which was dishonest about the content of the papers, and they wrote what the CDC told them to write and there we are.

It isn't impossible to figure this stuff out. It takes time and effort. A moderate amount of brains.
post #11 of 36
I say just stop and wait for now. The more the years go by, and the more I see how happy and healthy my daughter is, the less I ever even think about vaccines anymore. About once every two years I contemplate the DTaP because well...pertussis sucks. But so does the vaccine so that leaves me a no-vax parent.

Though if you're a more nervous parent when it comes to illnesses and such, then my approach my not work for you.

I studied vaccines for about four years before stopping. At that point I felt I had studied enough to be more than confident with my anti-vax stance. I can't recommend just one book or author or website. I did most of my reading online (though I have the most commonly recommended books). Read the vaccine forum here from a few years back (it seemed to be more active then). Follow the links posted, read more into the debates. Get both sides of the story. If something is confusing, study it even more.

Take your time though or it will get overwhelming. Maybe you will find someone that you can trust and just go by their judgment. Personally vaccine research became a hobby of mine for a while, so I ended up learning a lot on my own. I do love Hilary Butler's (sp?) work. Not a fan of Dr. Sears...find him too wishy washy when it comes to vaccines.

Good luck and I hope you can reach a decision that you're comfy with.
post #12 of 36
OP, I was slightly informed (I read two books when pregnant) but still allowed myself to be talked into the easiest shots to talk people out of (Hep B, a sexually and blood-transmitted disease). So I just want to say, don't feel bad for not being more informed prior to this point, and kudos to you for taking action now.

I think the very thorough approach outlined by some here is very very good, but I also want to acknowledge that that is what made it seem so overwhelming to me when I first got myself into this. It might feel more do-able if you check out a book or two from the library and look at it one shot/disease at a time, starting with the next shot(s) on the schedule as a PP said. You're not locked into vaxing just because you started vaxing. I stopped after my twins' 2 month shots, remained undecided until they were 2 y.o., finally had the time to do the reading, and ultimately decided not to vax.

Some things that surprised me when I finally looked into it:
- I found I didn't know what half the diseases really were. For example, I thought polio was deadly or paralytic to all who contracted it, when it's just like having the flu in 99% of cases. (Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pol...ction=symptoms)
- Other countries don't have the same aggressive schedule as the US. For example, Sweden has only 12 shots by 12 months old, compared to 19 shots on the CDC schedule by 12 months. (source: http://www.euvac.net/graphics/euvac/...on/sweden.html)
- Conflicts of interest in the way vaccines get on the CDC schedule. (Google Paul Offit, CDC and Rotateq)

P.S. It was helpful to me at one point to list out all the diseases/vaccines and start deciding yes, no or maybe based on what I had read so far. To my surprise I was able to eliminate many of them and it made my decision process much more do-able.
post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by heathergirl67 View Post
I would have disagreed with this at one time. My plan was to avoid this problem by just reading all of the studies that each side used and judging for myself. But then you have to find out who funded the studies, who was involved, who they may have worked with/been associated with before, what incentives are there for the researchers or publishers, etc. It's enough to make a person crazy. Because the truth is, those issues apply equally to both sides. It can definitely make you want to bury your head in the sand. Maybe just take one bit of info at a time? Like start with ONE vaccine. Perhaps one of the ones your dr wants to give next. That way it's not more and more stuff piling on.
This is why I trust the scientists and doctors and nurses whom I personally know, whom I know are not getting rich personally, and who have the education to read the articles, who have training in statistics.

Overall, though, one thing I learned is that no matter what study comes out, on MDC, everyone will say it's funded by Big Pharma and biased and not valid.

And frankly, though I disagree with part of the overall argument, I can see that.

Having read many studies myself, but without training in statistics (and having read much of the anti-vaccine literature), and most of all, not trusting some of the bigger names in the anti-vaccine movement, I choose to vaccinate.

I don't think it's possible for a layperson to really aggregate all that information, though. At some point, you have to say, "I am going to trust this person or that person to help me interpret this."

And that choice is going to make all the difference.

Good luck, OP.

(Oh, and you can always start vaccinating but for many diseases that affect babies the worst, there's not much point later.)
post #14 of 36
I personally feel that it isn't healthy to feel helpless in front of information and settle on trust as a solution.

Would everyone here use that approach for childbirth? I mean the obstetricians have always said that having a baby outside of a hospital setting is very, very dangerous.

Or how about breastfeeding? Many pediatricians are extremely laid back on the subject and leave it up to the mother to choose, at best. The evidence that breastfeeding can have a decisive effect on the long-term health of children is out there (hint, it is stronger by far than the evidence that vaccines reduced infant mortality), and yet breastfeeding is a choice and vaccines are a must.

My daughter is an engineer and has a good background in science. She researched childbirth. She researched breastfeeding. She asked me to do the vaccine research, but she didn't consider any of these topics beyond the reach of normal intelligence.

See, you don't actually have to understand advance immunology or all sorts of obscure science stuff to make a decision about vaccines. The two main questions are:

1) Are vaccines safe for babies at the ages given, individually or in combination?

2) What are the dangers for my babies from the particular diseases in the time and place where I'm living?

The answer to question number one is that the research hasn't actually been done. True, there are clinical tests. But the vaccines are usually given to healthy children and generally compared not to a placebo but to another vaccine. And the entire schedule hasn't been tested or compared to placebo.

The answer to number two is that most of these illnesses are either rare in the U.S. or not that dangerous for children or can be prevented by stuff like breastfeeding--so a reasonable parent can take the time to do the research on the specifics of the vaccines and the detail of the diseases and then make a decision.

Throwing one's hands up and saying: "It is just too difficult and I'm too dense...how about on this one thing I stop thinking and follow orders!"

Is that really the best option that people can recommend?
post #15 of 36
It's never too late!! And FWIW, I think many moms have regrets, things they wish they knew/understood/etc. before their kids were born. For me the biggest one is circ'ing, DS is circed, it's not that I didn't research but more that I read the WRONG research I guess, and I am mad at myself that I couldn't think it through properly. For him, it's too late, but when it comes to vaxes, you can start/stop any time (though yes, the vaxes could cause damage & it would be too late to fix it but fortunately that's not the case for you! )

My best advice is to take one vax at a time & research it. On the whole, I wasn't against vaxing, but when I went through the vaxes one by one, I found I just wasn't comfortable giving any of them to him, so for now we're not vaxing (but I am continuously researching and reserve the right to change my mind at any time!!) I don't have book suggestions, I am better with online research, I do spend a lot of time on the CDC website (and I find it ironic that my best evidence not to vax has been found on the site of the very organization that's making everyone vax...)

ETA (now that I've read the other responses): I do have training in statistics & research etc. so I'm sure that makes it easier but I don't believe you need to just roll over & listen to what the 'seasoned professionals' tell you (and they all seem to have different opinions anyway). I think vaxing is a much more personal choice & you need to decide what's right for your family. This is not about who's a liar etc. it's about numbers & safety etc. I don't read the CDC press releases, I read the actual studies, and also the prescribing information provided by the pharmaceutical companies which shows things like oh by the way the dtap has NOT been shown to prevent pertussis transmission... More & more lately I have been leaning toward completely anti-vax in general, but it started out as ruling out the MMR & chicken pox as morally unacceptable to me, and then from there I just ended up ruling out all of them for a combination of health/safety/moral reasons (there is one vax I'm still on the fence on though).
post #16 of 36
My approach was to ignore the vaccines all together and just research the diseases/illnesses that we vax for. What is the normal course of the illness, what is the likelihood of catching said illness, the likelihood of damage or death if they do get it. After researching the illness then look into the vaccine for it if your still worried.
post #17 of 36
Just a quick comment on trusting the opinions of CDC, public health officials, doctors, nurses etc. I just want to point out that what is best from a public policy/public health standpoint does NOT necessarily coincide with what is best for an individual or more specifically, for your child/family.
post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deborah View Post
I personally feel that it isn't healthy to feel helpless in front of information and settle on trust as a solution.

Would everyone here use that approach for childbirth? I mean the obstetricians have always said that having a baby outside of a hospital setting is very, very dangerous.

Or how about breastfeeding? Many pediatricians are extremely laid back on the subject and leave it up to the mother to choose, at best. The evidence that breastfeeding can have a decisive effect on the long-term health of children is out there (hint, it is stronger by far than the evidence that vaccines reduced infant mortality), and yet breastfeeding is a choice and vaccines are a must.

My daughter is an engineer and has a good background in science. She researched childbirth. She researched breastfeeding. She asked me to do the vaccine research, but she didn't consider any of these topics beyond the reach of normal intelligence.

See, you don't actually have to understand advance immunology or all sorts of obscure science stuff to make a decision about vaccines. The two main questions are:

1) Are vaccines safe for babies at the ages given, individually or in combination?

2) What are the dangers for my babies from the particular diseases in the time and place where I'm living?

The answer to question number one is that the research hasn't actually been done. True, there are clinical tests. But the vaccines are usually given to healthy children and generally compared not to a placebo but to another vaccine. And the entire schedule hasn't been tested or compared to placebo.

The answer to number two is that most of these illnesses are either rare in the U.S. or not that dangerous for children or can be prevented by stuff like breastfeeding--so a reasonable parent can take the time to do the research on the specifics of the vaccines and the detail of the diseases and then make a decision.

Throwing one's hands up and saying: "It is just too difficult and I'm too dense...how about on this one thing I stop thinking and follow orders!"

Is that really the best option that people can recommend
?
NOBODY recommended that. I haven't seen where anyone said, "Stop thinking for yourself. Decide who you trust and give all decision-making power over to them." Frankly, the fact that you've taken one part of many nuanced replies and boiled them down to that is troublesome to me. It seems a little bit like tunnel vision or seeing what you want to see.

As for the two questions to answer about vaxes... I guess you just see it much more simplistically than I do. I can think of tons of other questions and issues that need to be taken into consideration. That's why most of us seem to agree that it is a complicated issue with a lot of information to go through.

It seems unrealistic, to me, to not acknowledge that believing a study, opinion, etc takes a certain amount of trust. Like I brought out in my last post, there is always someone who funds the study. There's always researchers who may have other interests worth mentioning. There's always someone who will stand to gain from the results of the research, whatever they are. So even if one can read the actual research itself, find no flaws with the scientific method, and confirm that the listed results are accurate, there are other things to consider. It's scary to realize that you have to put a certain amount of trust in people. But, IMO, it's even scarier if you're denying that fact.
post #19 of 36
Quote:
This is why I trust the scientists and doctors and nurses whom I personally know, whom I know are not getting rich personally, and who have the education to read the articles, who have training in statistics.
I finished nursing school and worked as a nurse for a very short time. I got little to no "education" in vaccines and definitely no hard core training in statistics. The most we were really taught was to be grateful for the invention of the polio vaccines because it saved all our lives.

I know that different nurses have different levels of education and experience. But I personally know many housewives who are way more educated than most doctors even when it comes to vaccine knowledge. Because the topic interested them so they spent a lot of time studying about it. Most of the doctors and nurses that I met knew next to nothing about vaccine specifics. The just believed in them because the cdc and their text books say to and that was good enough for them.

YMMV
post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyCatLady View Post
I finished nursing school and worked as a nurse for a very short time. I got little to no "education" in vaccines and definitely no hard core training in statistics. The most we were really taught was to be grateful for the invention of the polio vaccines because it saved all our lives.

I know that different nurses have different levels of education and experience. But I personally know many housewives who are way more educated than most doctors even when it comes to vaccine knowledge. Because the topic interested them so they spent a lot of time studying about it. Most of the doctors and nurses that I met knew next to nothing about vaccine specifics. The just believed in them because the cdc and their text books say to and that was good enough for them.

YMMV
Yes, this is what I was trying to allude to as well but couldn't put it into words... My DS's old pedi didn't even know the ingredients in any of the vaxes (and was shocked when I told him some of them)... he also was a few years behind on his vax studies & stats. As far as nurses, my MIL became a nurse not too long ago and no way does she know more about vaxes than I do (not that I consider myself an expert), I think they just discussed the CDC schedule and that's it, definitely nothing in depth with each vax like I've researched on my own. In fact, our current family doctor is the only medical professional I've ever met IRL (& I've met many!) that has any substantial knowledge about vaxes.
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