Friday, January 21, 2011

Informed Decisions

Today I want to write about what's on my mind.

This blog post may be a controversial one. And I'm not writing it to heat things up or start a debate. I am writing it for parents out there who may want to become more informed. And mostly, I am writing it for my children. So that one day, when and if they read this blog, they will understand how and why they were vaccinated.

I have close friends who choose to fully vaccinate their children. I have friends who selectively vaccinate. And then I also have friends that choose to forgo all vaccinations. I do not judge. Each parent has a reason for the decision they make and I support those decisions. What's best for one fellow might not be best for the next. Everyone is different. It's time to start fully embracing these differences.

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The other day a dear friend wrote in her blog about mother circles. You can find the article here. I would love to put something like this together in our area with all of the wonderful mamas I know.. but for the time being I am sharing because the term Mamaste hasn't been far from my thoughts since I read the article. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

Mamaste-- "the mother in me recognizes and honors the mother in you.”  There are so many *mother wars* going on out there. Natural Birth vs. medicated. Breast fed vs. bottle fed. Vaccinating vs. not vaccinating. It's just silly and I think it's time we all start loving one another and supporting each others journeys no matter how they differ. Like I said before, this mamahood is a crazy wild ride. So lets love one another through the struggles and the triumphs on this journey. Grab another mama by the hand and let her know how wonderful a job you think she's doing because as mothers we all know that our duties often go unappreciated or unnoticed, and well, lets help to lift one anothers spirits. Shine your light on another mama in hopes that she may shine brighter. I think we'd be amazed at how fast the love would spread.

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I want to share parts of our vaccinating journey. Because for the informed the decisions can be extremely nerve wracking. And well, maybe just maybe by sharing our journey it will help a fellow mama (or papa) to further investigate, or to feel better about the decision they are making.

Let me start by saying that we delay and selectively vaccinate. Our biggest little was delayed and selectively vaccinated due to a reaction he had to his first set of vaccinations at two months old-the Prevnar vaccine to be exact. Our midlittle has been fully vaccinated up to this point because ignorance was bliss. And now, I've decided that we will selectively vaccinate our smallest little.

Yesterday she was vaccinated for Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis with the DTaP vaccine. This is the vaccine that scares me most, but I feel strongly that she receive it for the protection it may or may not provide against Pertussis. (I say may or may not because it seems that many vaccinated children are coming down with this disease as well as the unvaxed. I am aware of this fact.) If it were possible I would have opted out of the Diphtheria and Tetanus because Diphtheria is waaaaay uncommon and Tetanus isn't even a concern in infants, but as it turns out they don't manufacture a vaccine for Pertussis alone. They do have single Diphtheria vaccines and same goes for Tetanus but without the two together you wont find a Pertussis vaccine.

There are three brands of  the DTaP vaccine used today. The Dapatacel brand by Sanofi Pasteur, the Tripedia also by Sanofi, and the Infanrix brand by GlaxoSmithKline. The ingredients in each of these three brands differ. For instance the Daptacel brand contains more aluminum than the Tripedia brand, but the Tripedia contains mercury where the Daptacel doesn't. And the Infanrix contains higher levels of aluminum than the other two put together. (and that's not the only nasty ingredient in these vaccines!) Two of the three (T & I) use cow tissue extract in the making and culturing of the vaccine. The Daptacel also contains less than half the quantity of the Pertussis than the other two options, which is thought to be safer, because the Pertussis is thought to have been linked to the most side effects. Side effects that can range from diabetes, seizures, heart inflammation, Guillain-Barre syndrome, brain damage, and many many more.

There are also vaccine cocktails out there to reduce the amount of injections ones baby or child would undergo by combining the DTaP, Hep B, and Polio into one vaccine. If this is the route you should choose due to concerns over the amount of injections your child will receive then you should know that there are two options for the DTaP vaccine out there that combine these other two vaccines. One being the Pediarix (GlaxoSmithKline) and the other being Pentacel (Sanofi Pasteur) In the Pediarix the steps in creating the vaccine are very similar as if they were created separately but the Pentacel is a bit more controversial and was only approved for use in the Untied States within the past seven or so years. The product inserts don't offer any information as to how the vaccine for the Pentacel is created, and the DTaP and Polio components in this brand come from another combo vaccine called Quadracel that hasn't yet been approved for use within the States. I've found, from speaking with the local health departments, and our family doctor that one of these two vaccines is what is likely to be administered to your child unless you request otherwise.

With all that being said our smallest little received the Daptacel yesterday.(we've decided to delay the Polio and Hep B until we feel she is ready) I am also always sure to get the lot number and the expiration date for each and every vaccine she receives. I want to know what's going into my gals body. And you can be sure that even through all of this research and edumacting I've done myself that when I was rocking her to sleep I would check every few minutes to make sure that she was still breathing, and um yeah, I didn't sleep much last night. Call me a worry wart if you will, but the bliss from the ignorance is forever gone. And while I am happier for knowing what I know, it does make it much more real and scary being over on the informed side of things.

I am thankful for my knowledge though because if I hadn't been informed our smallest little would have received the Haemophilus Influenzae Type B, Pneumococcal, DTaP, Rotavirus, flu and Polio all in one day. Wowza, doesn't that seem like a lot for a little body to handle? I think, until we can get some better options for safer vaccines out there, that we as parents, grandparents, caregivers, nurses, and doctors need to become better informed when it comes to the health of our children. We need to make sure that our children are only receiving the best of these vaccine options out there. Because even if we choose to follow the strict vaccine schedule set by the American Academy of Pediatrics we should be using the best of the best (or should I say worst?) to do so. And we need to realize just how much this schedule has changed through out the years. I've run across parents who will often say "Well I got all these vaccines as a child and I turned out okay." And the truth of the matter is that you actually didn't receive these same vaccines and you didn't nearly receive the quantity that they are recommending today. Find the time to enlighten yourself, and you may be surprised at the things you will learn. And, if you're anything like me you may even feel some guilt over the vaccines/schedules you've used in the past but the past is just that and we can only go forward from here.

The main thing that I want to point out is that we have choices. If you are uncomfortable with any and/or all of the vaccines but want your children to attend public schooling there ARE choices. If you wish for your child to receive all of the vaccines but don't like the time line in which they are given YOU have choices. If you wish to only give certain vaccines at certain times you can do that to. YOU are the parent. This is YOUR child. Become informed and do the best for them that you can. I was often worried about the reactions I'd get because of my choices, but I've gotten nothing from the ones who matter most but positive feedback. Our Doctor was so happy that I decided to quiz him and get a feel for just exactly how he feels about vaccines. He was happy that I cared so deeply for my children that I would do this research and follow my heart when it comes to the choices I make for them. The nurses at the health department were more than happy to follow along with my wishes and treated me with nothing but kindness. More kindness actually than I was treated with back when ignorance was my bliss. So, if you feel the same way I feel, or are at all unsure about vaccines today don't be afraid to dig deeper, become informed, and share that information with the ones who matter most when it comes to your child's health. 


Helpful books on my journey to becoming informed:
Vaccinations A Thoughtful Parents Guide by Aviva Jill Romm
Childhood Vaccinations by Lauren Feder
The Vaccine Book by Robert W. Sears


  1. Thank you for a beautiful, balanced post! Blessings, Dulce

  2. wonderful post, mama! mamaste!!! :)

  3. Nice put together thoughts and research. We've made similar choices and sometimes I forget that other people just go about things without realizing they have a choice!
    Nice to 'meet' you.. Come by my place sometime -

  4. Thanks for sharing this! I am so unsure of whether or not to do DTaP. I keep throwing it around back and forth. I wish they offered aP on it's own. Anyway, thanks for sharing. I love reading about why moms choose to vaccinate. Mamaste! ;)

  5. Well said! I was planning on just the Pertussis shot at 6 months and was upset when my research showed it was only offered in combination. Seems like a big business ploy to me considering the hype with Pertussis right now...

    We fully vaxed our son and I am regretful about not taking the time to do my research and actually think about what was being injected into his little body.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. we made the same choices to selectively vax. my children get almost all of the vaccines but on MY schedule. I think, they do just push too much in too fast <3 mamaste!