Baby Vaccinations – Do or Die?

This post may seem slightly off-topic for a health & fitness blog, but when you think about it, vaccinations are part of health, so in case you’re interested, and in case you’re a parent (or about to become one), read on.

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Conversation between Andrew and I a couple months ago:

baby vaccinations

Us at the beach, talking about the baby most likely

me: Our baby is gonna be born all precious and pure; I’m not sure I want him pumped full of chemicals (vaccinations) right away, and every couple months after that

Andrew: But don’t baby vaccinations save the kid from getting life-threatening diseases?

me: Ya, but apparently not all the ingredients in the vaccines are that healthy, and can have other side-effects

Andrew: So what are we gonna do?

me: I’m gonna RESEARCH. 

…and research I did.

It soon became glaringly obvious that there are two very strong sides to the debate, namely, pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination, and in everything they publish, they demonize the other side.

The pro-vaccine people say your child could die a horrible death of some rare disease if you don’t vaccinate (and show scary pics to back up their point), and then the anti-vaccine people say your child might develop autism, etc, if you do vaccinate.  And on and on it goes.

This makes it really tough; who do you believe?  How do you know the difference?  It was getting frustrating.

That’s when my friend Esther recommended I check out The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears, who is a pediatrician in California.  The excellent thing about this book is that it’s written by someone who’s super qualified (he sees hundreds of kids in his practice every year), and he gives both the pros and the cons of each vaccine, as well as the likelihood that your kid might actually catch the disease.

So I grabbed the book from the library (actually, I had to line up for months as it’s quite popular and always on reserve), and read the heck out of it.  Not like casual lounging by the pool reading, but sitting at my computer taking notes reading.  I wanted whatever decisions I made based on reading this book to be well-documented, so that if I ever doubt these decisions, I could go back and check my rationale without having to read the whole massive book over again.

And now, lucky for you, I’m gonna share my notes with you… just in case you’re also having the same internal debate and don’t feel like reading the whole thing.  These are the Coles Notes/Cliffs Notes, if you will.

In the book, the first 12 chapters go through the 12 most common baby vaccinations (and the diseases against which they vaccinate).  The rest of the book talks about special cases such as vaccinations for travel, etc.

If you’re just curious on what we’ve decided to do with our kid, skip to the bottom of this post where it says “What We’re Gonna Do.”

Here we go with the notes:

 

Vaccines

 

1. HIB (Haemophilus Infulenzae Type B); HIB Vaccine

What is this disease? 
A bacterium that can cause meningitis, blood infections, bone infections, severe throat infections, and pneumonia

Can it be treated?
Yes, most people recover well from it, but there can be some lasting after-effects

Is the disease common?
No; it is extremely rare.

When is the vaccine given?
2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15 months

What brands of this vaccine exist?
ActHIB, PedVaxHIB, and Hiberix

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Aluminum in the PedVaxHIB, and formaldehyde in the other two.  Aluminum is toxic if too much is given at once (such as in getting multiple vaccines containing it).  Formaldehyde is a carcinogen, but there is only a tiny amount of it in these vaccines.

What are the side effects?
Common ones: 25% of kids experience redness, swelling, and pain at the site of the injection, and fever occurs in about 5%
There are no known severe reactions.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-protection from the rare chance of getting the disease
-has one of the safest side effect profiles of all vaccines
-the ingredients are purer than those in most other vaccines

CONS of getting this vaccine:
-severe cases of this disease are now extremely rare (about 25 cases per year in the US in kids under 5 years old)
-if you breastfeed your baby and it doesn’t go to group daycare, it has an even lower chance of catching this disease
-there are many other forms of Haemophilus bacteria (not type-B), which this vaccine doesn’t protect against.  Vaccinating against HIB has made the other forms increase.  This is called “strain replacement.”

Other things to consider:
-try to go for an aluminum-free brand of this vac, or at least make sure no more than ONE aluminium-containing vaccine is given in the same month
-try not to go for the Comvax or Pentacel brands

 

2. Pneumococcal Disease (Pc Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Streptococcus pneumonia can cause mild colds, ear infections, pneumonia, blood-stream infections, and meningitis.  It’s transmitted like the common cold, and affects more young kids and old people.  In rare cases if it gets really severe, it can result in hearing loss or brain damage.

Is the disease common?
Yes.  However, the vaccine for it doesn’t cover the multitude of strains.  They keep coming up with new versions of the vaccine to cover new or prominent-at-the-time strains, but they can never cover all the strains.

When is the vaccine given?
2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15 months

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  125 micrograms of aluminium.  Aluminum is toxic if too much is given at once (such as in getting multiple vaccines containing it).

What are the side effects?
Common ones: 25% of kids experience redness, swelling, and pain at the site of the injection, and fever occurs in about 5%.  There is also a high rate of irritability.
Severe reactions: less than 1% of children

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-protection from the fairly common chance of getting the disease (however seriously your child happens to be effected by it)
-the ingredients are comparatively safe

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-it may add to the problem of emerging Pc strains like 19A (the vaccine created this problem in the first place)
-if you breastfeed your baby and it doesn’t go to group daycare, it has an even lower chance of catching this disease
-it doesn’t protect against 1/3 of the strains of Pc that are going around

Other things to consider:
-there is no aluminium-free brand of this vaccine yet
-make sure no more than ONE aluminium-containing vaccine is given in the same month

 

3. Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP Vaccine)

What are these 3 diseases? 
Diphtheria is a very serious throat infection, irritating the throat and upper lungs, causing severe coughing and breathing difficulty.  Often caught after traveling to a developing nation.

Tetanus is an infectious disease caused by bacterium that lives in soil, dirty rusty metal, unsterile needles, intestines of animals, and in their stool.  You can get it from deep and dirty wounds, surgery, burns, crush wounds, dental infections, animal bites, minor wounds, scrapes, self-piercing, and tattoos.  It can either be local (in one area) or general (spread to the rest of the body), and can range from minor to extremely severe.

Pertussis (aka whooping cough) is a bacterium that infects the upper lungs.  It seems like a common cold for the first few weeks, then worsens into severe coughing (30 seconds to 2 minute spells) with breathing difficulty.

Is the disease common?
Diphtheria- no.  Last reported case in the US was in 2003.
Tetanus- no.  Only about 1 case in kids under 5 in the US per year.
Pertussis- yes.  There are thousands of cases each year, but the numbers rise and fall in about a 5-year cycle.  The vaccine is only about 85% protective, so pertussis cannot be eradicated like some other diseases in the world have been.

When is the vaccine given?
2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 18 months, 4-6 years, and 12 years.  New moms and dads can get it too (Tdap) so they won’t catch Pertussis they won’t pass it along to their baby.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Aluminum, which is toxic if too much is given at once (such as in getting multiple vaccines containing it).  Formaldehyde, which is toxic and a carcinogen, but there is only a tiny amount of it in these vaccines.  Polysorbate 80, glutaraldehyde, and 2-phenoxyethanol, which are toxic in large amounts, but probably harmless in this vaccine.  Mercury in the Tetanus (alone) vaccine and the DT vaccine.  Make sure your doc uses the low-mercury single-dose vials and not the 15-dose vial with 25 micrograms of mercury.

What are the side effects?
Mild side effects in about 25% of children.  One in a million have severe allergic reactions.  The older version of this vaccine, the whole-cell DTP had much more severe reactions (like brain injury).  This has been replaced by DTaP in the mid-1990s is much safer.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-Pertussis is a common disease, and is most serious in the first 6 months of life
-Diptheria is a very dangerous disease, although it is extremely rare in the developed world.  It is, however, a potential hazard during international travel
-Tetanus is very serious when, in a rare case, it occurs in a child (although it is not a disease of infancy)

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-there is no vaccine for just the P part of the DTaP vaccine (Pertussis), which is the most likely threat to children (much more-so than the D and T (diphtheria and tetanus)
-the child could however skip the DTaP at birth, and then just get the DT series prior to age 7, or the dT series as a teenager before traveling the world

Other things to consider:
-try not to go for the Pediarix or Kinrix combo vaccines due to their higher aluminium content
-Petnacel and TriHIBit are good combo choices
-use a brand with a lower amount of aluminium.  Tripedia, who made this lower-aluminum-content vaccine recently stopped making it, though
-the actual amounts of the chemicals are like a drop in a bucket

 

4. Hepatitis B (Hep B Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Hep B is an STD that causes liver damage and can be fatal.  You can get it thru sex, accidental needle sticking, or unclean tattoo needles.   You can also get it from blood transfusions, although this is extremely rare as all donated blood is tested.

Is the disease common?
No, not among infants and young children, and most who do get it, get it at birth from their undiagnosed Hep B-postivie mother (during delivery).

When is the vaccine given?
At birth, 1 month, and 6 months.  Unless the baby is born to a Hep B-postive mother, the baby really doesn’t need this vaccine at birth, so be sure to tell the hospital your wishes beforehand.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  250 micrograms of aluminium per dose, and a small amount of formaldehyde in the REcombivax HB/Merck brand.

What are the side effects?
Local injection site reactions occur in under 10% of people.  Fever, headache, and fatigue occur in up to 10% of kids.  More bothersome reactions occur in less than 1% of babies.  Severe reactions are one in a million.
Overall this vaccine is generally safe, but reactions in newborns are more worrisome.
Lots of post-marketing surveillance reactions (see the book for the full list, but they’re not good)

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-the ingredients don’t include any animal tissues
-recommended for any teens or adults who have various sexual partners, and for any health care or emergency workers who will come into contact with patients’ blood

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-most babies and children are at very low risk of catching Hep B
-can be delayed in the first few months while other, more important, vaccines are being given (pertussis and meningitis)
-teenagers who choose abstinence until marriage could skip this vaccine completely

 

5. Rotavirus (Rotavirus Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Rotavirus is an intestinal virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.  You get it by coming in contact with stools or saliva of an infected person.  It is resistant to disinfectant cleaning solutions and antibacterial hand soap.  Only strong antiseptic or alcohol solution kills the germ (such as hand sanitizer).  Cases vary a lot in severity, but can get very severe.

Is the disease common?
Yes.  By 3, most kids will have caught rotavirus at least once, especially during fall and winter weather, and they are much more susceptible if they are in group daycare.  About 2 million people around the world get it each year.

When is the vaccine given?
2 months, 4 months, and 6 months, and is given by mouth as a liquid.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Monkey kidney cells, feral cow blood, Polysorbate 80, and pig virus contaminants.

What are the side effects?
Fever in about 20% of infants, vomiting and diarrhoea in 10%, and poor feeding in 25%.  Also, temporary intestinal symptoms can occur.  Severe reactions are rare, and this vaccine is very safe overall.
It is a live-virus vaccine.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
It’s not a question of if, but of when your baby will catch this disease, and how severe they will get it.  It can be a very serious disease for infants in their first year of life.

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-infants who are breastfed and not in group daycare have a fairly low chance of catching Rotavirus in the first year of their life
-fatalities from this disease are rare in developed countries
-the animal products used to make the vaccine may concern some parents (but they are most likely nothing to worry about)
-it’s a live-virus vaccine, so it can cause a bit of a reaction
-babies with SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency disease) should not get this vaccine as it can cause severe reactions

 

6. Polio (Polio Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Polio is a virus that is transmitted like the common cold or flu.  Some people just get a sore throat and fever without knowing they’ve got the virus, and it goes away.  However, if the virus invades the nervous system, it causes muscle weakness and paralysis.

Is the disease common?
No.  There have been no cases of polio in the USA since 1985.  There are a couple thousand cases per year in parts of Asia and Africa.

When is the vaccine given?
2 months, 4 months, and 18 months, and 5 years

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Baby cow blood serum, human albumin (blood proteins), glutamate (component of MSG), formaldehyde (100 micrograms), 2-phenoxyethanol, and monkey kidney cells

Combo Vaccines
You can get the polio vaccine combined with DTaP and either HIB or Hep B.  Pentacel brand is okay.  Pediarix and Kinrix have more aluminium in them than most, so not as good a choice.

What are the side effects?
Redness or swelling in less than 10% of kids.  No severe reactions reported (as happened occasionally in older versions of this vaccine).  However, the safety study size was extremely small (1300 infants).

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-although polio has been eradicated in North America, Europe, and South America, it has resurged in some Asian countries in recent years, and there is always a chance of it popping up again in the developed world (through immigration, etc)
-one of the safest vaccines in terms of side effects

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-the use of animal products may make some parents hesitant on this vaccine
-polio no longer exists in the developed world (however, consider overseas travel before not getting this vaccine)

 

7. Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR Vaccine)

What are these 3 diseases? 
Measles
Measles is a virus that is transmitted like the common cold.  It causes a fever, rash (red, round bumps all over the body), red eyes, runny nose, and cough.  About 1 in 1000 cases is fatal, with complications including encephalitis (brain inflammation), and severe pneumonia

Mumps
Mumps is a virus that causes fever and swelling of the saliva gland in the cheeks (right in front of the ears).  It is usually quite mild in kids, but can be moderate or severe, which involves fever, body aches, swelling of the testicles or ovaries that can sometimes result in fertility problems down the road.

Rubella
Rubella is similar to measles and mumps in that it gives you fever and a rash, and can also cause aching joints and swollen glands.  It is transmitted like the common cold, and and is generally really mild.  If a pregnant woman catches rubella, it can cause birth defects in her fetes.

Is the disease common?
Measles– No, not anymore.  About 50-100 cases in the USA reported per year.

Mumps– No.  Only about 250 cases in the last 10 years in the USA.  However, random and large outbreaks can and have occurred.  The childhood vaccine wears off by adulthood, so it’s important to get booster shots for it.

Rubella– No.  Only about 250 cases per year, universally.

When is the vaccine given?
12 months and 5 years (booster).  It is a live-virus vaccine… in this case, a triple live-virus vaccine.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Cow fetes serum, chick embryo proteins, DNA and protein fragments from human feral cells, and glutamate

Combo Vaccines available
ProQuad combines MMR and chickenpox vaccines, but not recommended due to higher rates of seizure reactions

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: Fever in 20%, and mild rash in 5%
Severe reactions: there are quite a few, but the most serious are arthritis and neurological reactions, which are quite rare.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-there are some possibly serious effects to the 3 diseases if you get them
-getting it is important for general public health- so others don’t get these 3 diseases
-if you delay the vaccine, the potential for severe side effects increases once a child enters puberty, so getting the vaccine no later than age 10 is recommended

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-the diseases are mild and rare
-the potential side effects, although rare, can be serious, and this vaccine has the longs and most serious list of reported reactions
-it is the most controversial of all the vaccines when it comes to possible side effect, as the product insert doesn’t list how common or how rare many of these reactions are, or how many children were involved in the safety research
-in very rare cases, the measles virus (live vaccine) can cause an infectious and/or autoimmune reactions that severely affects the brain
-the cow blood products and human and animal tissues in this vaccine can be a concern to parents
-since they are live-virus vaccines, they don’t mimic nature, as you’d never catch all 3 of these diseases at once, and this can increase the risk of side effects
-although it’s not been proven, many parents see a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, as many children seem “normal” before one, but then develop autism in their second year of life (after their 12-month shots)

Other things to consider:
-you could choose to get only one dose of this vaccine instead of also having the booster at age 5, since one dose works perfectly fine in 95% of children (the booster is just to ensure immunity in the 5% of kids who didn’t respond to the first dose)
-the 3 vaccines used to be available separately, but they stopped manufacturing them.  Worth checking into where you live, though
-consider delaying this vaccine until after the time susceptible for autism (after 2?… see page 265)

 

8. Chickenpox (Varicella Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Chickenpox is a virus that causes fever and spots all over the body, and is easily recognised by the pattern of these spots.  It is transmitted like the common cold.  Severe complications are rare.

Is the disease common?
No, not anymore.  There’s been about a 75% decrease since the vaccination began.

When is the vaccine given?
12 months and 5 years (booster).  It is a live-virus vaccine.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  MSG (0.5 milligrams), DNA and proteins from human cells, and cow fetes serum and animal cells.

Combo Vaccines available
ProQuad combines MMR and varicella vaccines, but is not recommended due to higher rate of seizure reactions.

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: injection site reactions in 20% of kids, fever in 15%, and mild rash in about 4%.
Severe reactions: severe inflammation of the lungs in 1 in 100-1000 kids, and seizures due to fever in fewer than 1 in 1000.
Also, lots of possible post-marketing side effects have been reported.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-chickenpox sucks
-if you’re vaccinated and still get it, at least it will be milder
-if your kid gets it, they’ll have to miss school for a week, which means you’ll have to miss work for a week ($ issue)
-public health benefit- if your kid is vaccinated, along with most other kids, the occurrence of disease will be much lower

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-chickenpox is usually harmless in the long run
-catching this disease provides better immunity (not to catch it again) than the vaccine provides
-some parents are sketched out by the ingredients in the vaccine, and how it’s made

Other things to consider:
-1 dose is usually enough to develop immunity (don’t necessarily need 2 doses)
-good idea to get this vaccine at a separate time than other live-virus vaccines (eg- MMR)
-many parents view this as an optional vaccine
-acyclovir treatment is available if your child does catch chickenpox

 

9. Hepatitis A (Hep A Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Hep A is a virus that attacks the liver and causes temporary liver inflammation, which result in symptoms similar to the stomach flu, and often jaundice (yellow skin and eyes).  It is transmitted through stools (poo), such as when a daycare worker doesn’t wash their hands after changing an infected child’s diaper, and then touches other kids, food, etc.  Also, if you don’t wash your hands after using a washroom that an infected person has used, and then go eat your lunch, etc.  Beaches can spread Hep A by sewage runoff.  In developing countries, water supplies are often infected with this virus because of poor sewage treatment.  Can also be passed through blood transfusions (very rarely) or sharing drug needles.

Is the disease common?
Sort of.  About 10,000 cases in the US each year, mainly in kids between 5-14.

When is the vaccine given?
12 months, and 18-24 months (booster).

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Aluminum (225-250 micrograms), formaldehyde, cow blood proteins (in the Vaqta brand by Merck), human cell proteins and DNA, and 2-phenoxyethanol and polysorbate 20 in the Havrix brand by GlaxoSmithKline)

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: 15% have local reactions at the site of injection, and fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite occur in about 10%
Severe reactions: seizures in 1% of infants
Also, numerous post-marketing reactions

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-it is well-tolerated by most people
-the disease can be very challenging to go thru as a teenager or adult
-provides protection for traveling to developing countries where Hep A is more common
-especially good for people with chronic liver diseases as catching Hep A would be ultra serious for them

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-the seizure rate is higher in infants, so good to postpone this vaccine until at least 2 years old
-Hep A is virtually harmless for kids
-some parents may be concerned by the chemical ingredients, human cells, and cow blood proteins in this vaccine

Other things to consider:
-since it contains aluminium, it might be a good idea to get it at a separate time than other aluminium-containing vaccines
-as the seizure rate was higher in infants (in the safety study), it might be a good idea to wait until at least age 2 to get this vaccine

 

10. Influenza Disease (Flu Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
The flu is a virus which has many different strains.  It is transmitted like the common cold and causes fever, headache, body ache, are throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, stuffiness, coughing, etc.  It is uncomfortable, but passes, usually without further complications.

Is the disease common?
Yes.  It is the most common illness that we have a vaccination for, and there are millions of cases each year.

When is the vaccine given?
6 months (2 doses), 18 months, 2-18 years (given each year at the start of flu season).

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Mercury in most brands (25 micrograms), formaldehyde (small amount so probably harmless), and many other chemical in small amounts that are generally regarded as safe.
Fluarix and Agriflu brands are mercury-free.  FluLaval brand has a full mercury dose in it.  With the other brands (Fluzone, Fluvirin, and Afluria), it depends on the formulation.  The nasal spray vaccine never has mercury in it.

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: typical flu symptoms can happen after the vaccine, and injection site reactions occur in about 1/3 of people.  About half of infants show irritability, and 20% show fever, drowsiness, loss of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
Severe reactions: Febrile seizures can occur, but the risk is low enough that this vaccine continues to be recommended
Post-marketing reactions: there are tons of bad reactions that could happen/have been reported, but are very rare.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-high-risk groups (such as the elderly, and those with chronic medical problems) really benefit from the flu vaccine since catching the flu will effect them a lot more than the average person
-if you live with someone with poor health, getting the vaccine will protect you, and in turn, protect them
-missing work due to the flu (or staying home with your child who has the flu) can be hard, financially
-preventing the flu decreases the chance of ear infections

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-the high incidence of flu-like symptoms after getting the shot
-babies who are breastfed and not in group daycare are less susceptible to catching the flu (and other illnesses)
-the number of infant deaths due to the flu is very low
-the flu vaccine has more chemicals (apart from mercury) than most other vaccines
-one large study shows that this vaccine doesn’t work for kids under 2 anyways, so better to wait until age 2 to start (if at all)
-mercury isn’t healthy for anyone’s brain, especially in a developing one (like a baby’s)
-not all brands of the vaccine have been properly safety-tested (only tested for creating antibodies)
-there are several strains of the flu each year, so being vaccinated against one strain doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get another strain of the flu (which you weren’t vaccinated against)

 

11. Meningococcal Disease (Meningococcal Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
This bacterium causes an infection that runs through the bloodstream to body organs and can spread to the brain, causing meningitis.  It is transmitted like the common cold, and is always very serious.  There are several strains, the most common one being Type B, against which an effective vaccine has not been developed.

Is the disease common?
Around 3000 cases per year in the US.  Most cases are in kids aged 6 months – 2 years, and are mostly Type B (no vaccine for this type).

When is the vaccine given?
At age 11 or 12, with a booster vaccine 5 years later.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Formaldehyde, but only 0.3 micrograms of it, which is harmless.  Apart from that, this is one of the purest vaccines available.

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: injection site reactions in about 50% of people, headaches in 35%, ill feelings in 25%, joint aches in 20%, drowsiness, irritability, or loss of appetite in about 10% of kids, and fever in 5% (rare).
Severe reactions: possible association with temporary muscle weakness or paralysis

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-this disease is devastating, and the vaccine protects you
-there are about 250 teenage and college-age cases per year
-the ingredients are very pure and simple

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-the unclear association with temporary paralysis
-the standard side effects are more common with this vaccine than with many others
-the disease isn’t very common
-you can delay this shot (and then only get one dose) until high school (instead of age 11 or 12) as high school and college are the riskiest years for this disease to occur, and many teens lose their immunity from the first dose (age 11-12) anyways, so why bother?
-kids as young as 9 months can now get this vaccine, however it’s not recommended as much more safety research needs to be done

 

12. Human Papillomavirus Disease (HPV Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
This virus has many strains, and can cause genital warts and cervical cancer.  It is transmitted through unprotected sex.

Is the disease common?
Most sexually active people carry this virus by the time they’re in their early 20s; it is the most common STD in the US, with about 20 million people becoming infected with it each year.

When is the vaccine given?
11-12 years old, with two more doses given within 8 months of the first dose.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes, aluminium (225 micrograms), but since the child is not a baby when receiving this vaccine, it shouldn’t effect them.

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: injection site reactions are common- 80% experience pain at the injection site for several hours, 50% show redness, swelling, headache, fatigue, muscles aches, and joint pain, and 25% experience nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Severe reactions: severe injection site reactions occur in about 10% of kids, which is much more common than with any other vaccine, but usually pass without problems.  There are numerous other severe and post-marketing reactions listed in the book, such as autoimmune reactions.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-it decreases the risk of cervical cancer and prevents genital warts
-even for people who don’t have sex before marriage, it can protect them from contracting HPV if their spouse didn’t wait until marriage and carries this virus

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-it is a fairly new vaccine
-no one is sure how long the immunity from the vaccine actually lasts
-this vaccine only protects against the most common strains of HPV, and does not protect against other STDs, and teens could develop a false sense of security from getting this vaccine, thinking they are immune to all STDs now
-the vaccine is not without risk

Other things to consider:
-go for the Gardasil brand over the Cervarix brand as it protects against more strains of the HPV virus

 

Vaccines for Travel

-you don’t need to be vaccinated to fly within North America
-you don’t need to be vaccinated to fly on an airplane at all (even with sick people aboard)
-if you are traveling internationally, especially to Africa, Asia, and South America, and if you’ll be staying for a longer period of time and your kids will be interacting with local kids, you should always check the CDC’s recommendations at www.cdc.gov/travel/page/disease.htm

-the life-threatening diseases that your kids should be vaccinated against when doing this kind of overseas travel are:
-diphtheria
-polio
-meningococcal disease

-non-life-threatening diseases overseas which are a good idea to be vaccinated against are:
-HIB
-DTap
-Hep B
-MMR
-Hep A

 

Special Vaccines for Travel

Yellow Fever– this occurs mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, and tropical parts of South America.  Babies 9 months and older can get this vaccine, but it can have serious side-effects since it’s a live vaccine (so it can cause an actual infection).

Typhoid Fever– this is contracted through contaminated water and food in developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Central/South America.  It is treatable with antibiotics.  Babies can get the vaccine at 2 years and up.  The vaccine is only 50-80% effective in preventing this disease, so many people choose not to get it.

Japanese Encephalitis– this is spread by mosquitoes in Southeast Asia, China, India, and eastern Russia.  Most people who catch it don’t notice any symptoms, but those who do suffer severe neurological problems, and about 1 in 3 people will die.  Good idea to get this shot if you’re traveling to these countries and doing a lot of outdoorsy stuff like camping during mosquito season, however, it can have quite unpleasant side effects (in about 1 in 200 people who get the vaccine).

 

Vaccines and Autism

-many parents are concerned that vaccines (especially those containing mercury, and the MMR vaccine) cause autism
-there are several studies to show that this isn’t true, and several that show it’s quite likely.  However, none of these studies are perfect as they are often funded by groups that have a vested interest (ie- money), or are not published in peer-reviewed journals
-so really, the jury is still out on this issue, but Dr. Sears believes that “the majority of mainstream research does not show a link between vaccines and autism”

 

Aluminum in Vaccines

-direct quote from the book:  “There is good evidence that large amounts of aluminium are harmful to humans.  There is no solid evidence that the amount of aluminium in vaccines is harmful to human infants and children.  There is considerable animal research that shows it may be harmful.  No one has actually studied vaccine amounts of aluminium in healthy human infants to make sure it is safe.”
-he goes on to say that to be safe, ask your Dr. for vaccines that don’t contain/are low in aluminium.  If they don’t have them, ask them to order them in.  Be a pain.

 

Mercury in Vaccines

-mercury (aka thimerosal) used to be in several vaccines, and around 2000, it was discovered that the amount in the routine vaccine schedule exceed known safety limits (there was 87 times too much mercury in vaccines)
-now, most vaccines do not contain mercury, apart from some brands of the flu shot, and also some multi-dose forms of tetanus, DT, and Td vaccines (but are rarely used)

 

Formaldehyde in Vaccines

-is used as a preservative in several vaccines (just like it was for the animals/eyeballs you dissected in Biology) 🙂
-used in very small amounts in vaccines, so is probably okay
-the only research really available is about inhaled formaldehyde, not injected

 

What We’re Gonna Do

Here is what we are leaning towards… nothing is set in stone yet, but this is what we are comfortable with, based on the above facts/research:

 

Vaccines our baby WILL get:

DTaP, but will not to go for the Pediarix or Kinrix combo vaccines due to their higher aluminium content (Petnacel and TriHIBit are good combo choices, but that means we’d be vaccinating against DTaP and HIB as well, which I don’t think we will (see the “no” list below), so we’ll probably just go for the DTaP vaccine on its own)

Meningococcal (but this isn’t a baby vaccine, so will wait till 11-12 years old)

Vit K (but this isn’t technically a vaccine)

 

Vaccines our baby WON’T get:

(if we put him in daycare before age 2, or can’t breastfeed for some reason, these will definitely be re-thought)

HIB (If we travel to a lot of developing countries, we might change our mind on this one, and if we do, it will have to be an aluminium-free brand of this vaccine)

Pc (if we do, we will make sure no more than ONE aluminium-containing vaccine is given in the same month)

Hep B (if we do, it can be delayed in the first few months while other, more important, vaccines are being given (pertussis and meningitis)

Rotavirus (unless we put him into daycare in the first couple years… then we’ll probably change our mind)

Polio (unless we decide to travel to Asia and Africa quite a lot… then we’ll think about it)

MMR (if we do, we could choose to get only one dose of this vaccine instead of also having the booster at age 5, since one dose works perfectly fine in 95% of children (the booster is just to ensure immunity in the 5% of kids who didn’t respond to the first dose).  We would also consider delaying this vaccine until after the time susceptible for autism (after age 2), and also in time for going to school, so probably just one dose around age 4 or 5.  Also, if we are traveling overseas to developing countries a lot, we might go for this one)

Chickenpox (and if we do, 1 dose is usually enough to develop immunity (don’t necessarily need 2 doses), and it’s a good idea to get this vaccine at a separate time than other live-virus vaccines (eg- MMR, which is on our “no list” anyways)

Hep A (and if we do, we’ll do it when the kid is at least 2 years old, and probably only if we travel to developing countries with him.  Also, since this vaccine contains aluminium, it might be a good idea to get it at a separate time than other aluminium-containing vaccines, most of which we won’t get anyways, so moot point there)

Flu

HPV (and if we do, we’ll go for the Gardasil brand over the Cervarix brand as it protects against more strains of the HPV virus)

 

Vaccines we’re not quite sure about yet:

-Rotavirus (I’ve put it down as a “no” above, but not for sure)

 

Precautions to take if you don’t vaccinate

To help your kids stay ultra-healthy and minimize their risk of catching these diseases…

-feed them natural, whole foods (try for organic), limit junk food and sugar, get plenty of exercise and outdoor play, and take immune-boosting supplements such as Vit D, fish oil, and fruit-veg-berry supplements

-breastfeed for at least one year (two years is even better)

-don’t put them in daycare and nurseries for the first 2 years, and avoid large playgroups

-keep your kids home if they’re sick so they don’t spread it around (in case they’ve got a sickness they’ve not been vaccinated against.  Take them to the Dr. right away for a diagnosis)

 

Any thoughts on baby vaccinations?  Leave them in the comments below- I’d love to hear what you think.

 

8 Responses to Baby Vaccinations – Do or Die?

  • Joana says:

    As I live in a develping country I won’t have the chance you do with my babies. The choices my family and I can make, we do like not getting the flu vaccine. Your post is very intetrsting, and it’s good to know that although you have strong beliefs of not getting some vaccines you are also open minded about changing it if the circunstancies ask you to. Also I didn’t know some vaccines could cause autismn. Whatever decision you make I hope your baby comes healthy and stays away of all these desieses.! Love from Brazil

  • admin says:

    Thanks, Joana. Ya, living in a developed country changes the game on this one for sure. Glad you got something out of the post 🙂

  • Beth Weaver says:

    Dear Corinna, You have certainly done your research! I generally agree with this list of pro’s/con’s and there is certainly controversy around vaccinations and whether the vaccine or the disease is the lesser of the two evils.

    I have a couple of things to add/comment on.

    1. The book you were reading stated disease occurrence rates as is found in the USA where generally there is good uptake of vaccinations. As has been recently seen in Texas (http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/12/221737535/big-measles-outbreaks-worry-federal-health-officials) this year where immunisation levels fall within a community there is potential for sudden and unexpected outbreaks of these “rare” diseases. The sunshine coast, and many other parts of Queensland has some immunization rates of less than 85% (less than 40% in some areas according to a friend of mine who is a GP in Brisbane- http://www.nhpa.gov.au/internet/nhpa/publishing.nsf/Content/Healthy-communities/$file/HC_ImmRates_2011-12_FINAL_130409.pdf).
    Not only does your area likely have higher rates of disease but this is below the 90% level needed for what is called Herd Immunity. 90% of a population need to be immune to a disease to contain it if someone does bring it into the area. And to protect people who are unable to have vaccinations because of know immunodeficiency states.

    2. You commented in the MMR section about needing to vaccinate to protect others from the disease and this is a real social decision to make. Pregnant women who might be susceptible to Rubella, or the cancer patient in church who is currently immuno-compromised. This does need to be part of the decision of whether or not to immunize children.

    3. I would (on the basis of point 1) strongly encourage you to reconsider vaccinations for HIB, MMR and polio. These are horrible diseases when the do happen and do lead to severe disability and death.

    You are correct the the vitamin K given at birth is not a vaccine. It supports production and function of clotting factors which babies do not have when they are born (it is made by e.coli in the gut so takes a while for babies to produce enough themselves). It prevents hemorrhage in newborns and is especially important for breastfed babies.

    Super excited about baby Nairn’s arrival and that your folks will be able to be there!
    Love Beth x

  • admin says:

    Thanks so much for your insight, Dr. Beth- very much appreciated.
    If I were to get the baby immunized with the vaccines you recommended (HIB, MMR, and Polio), what would you think about just delaying those until after age 2, especially if he’s not in daycare for those first 2 years?

    • Beth Weaver says:

      I am of the opinion that there is no proven link between autism and vaccinations. There is some speculation around it, and spreading out the vaccinations (one a week rather than 3 every 2 months for example) would be one way to minimize any possible risk since this concerns you. Infants under 2 years are most susceptible to these diseases which can cause meningitis, encephalitis and permanent disability. For me (and I am open to new research and the fact that we don’t know everything about how we respond to the medicines and packaging that they come in) the proven risks to a baby (and others in the community) from these diseases are more serious a threat than the possible link, that is unproven, of autism.

      Even if your baby doesn’t go to daycare, you and Andrew will be taking him to church. This is enough of a mixing pot for exposure to disease, especially when you factor in visiting missionaries/mission trips etc that are more likely to bring these infections into your social group too.

      Delaying until after 2 would still leave him vulnerable for the time when he would be most susceptible.

      Lots of love x

  • corinnanairn says:
  • Pingback: Pregnancy books not to be missed | Busy and Fit

  • corinnanairn says:

    In the end, we decided to have our baby vaccinated after all. A couple of good articles (although there are many others as well) are found at http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/dear-parents-you-are-being-lied and http://www.todaysparent.com/baby/baby-health/vaccination/

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