Vaccinations and immunization are a VERY hot topic. There is so much information out there to sift through and everyone has an opinion. A strong one. Since having my daughter almost 4 months ago, I've been wading in the muck of the vaccination controversy and it's a big subject in my home.
I wanted to follow up on the posting MamaKai had sent out this week regarding the current measles "scare". The "Measles: what you should know" newsletter was a forward/reposting from my dear colleagues at GetzWell Pediatrics. Julia and her team bring forth an integrative approach to baby/child care and I respect them for being able to support all families' broad decisions. I found it to be informative and thought it would be a great piece to get in the hands of MamaKai readers as an added resource. I didn't change a word and this doesn't reflect the specific viewpoint of me personally nor MamaKai as a whole.
For me and creating MamaKai as a support to growing families, I urge each of you to do as much research as necessary to get to a "happy place" in creating your vaccination (or non-vaccination) plan. Know that the world of vaccinations is not black/white, but a rather huge area of gray, and YOU actually have more power and say in what you think is best for your family. Here are a few further thoughts...
- Vaccinations are young in the grand scheme of human evolution. Just sayin'.
- Some vaccines are for life threatening illnesses and some are for illnesses that just make us feel pretty darned crummy for a short period of time. Maybe you want to do some and not others and maybe you want to do them on your terms, delaying the schedule and allowing natural immunity to build up in your baby first, and maybe you don't want to do any for now and make the decision later. Whatever you choose is exactly right for your family in the given moment. Don't doubt yourself once you have the information you need and are clear in your decision. Aviva Jill Romm's Vaccination's book is a pretty good (and mostly unbiased) look at each vaccination and their history / efficacy.
- Weigh in your personal risks. This is HUGE. Are you a mama that will go back to work shortly after birth, whereby you and your baby will be out in the workplace/daycare environment and being exposed to more buggies OR are you a stay-at-home mama that keeps your baby with you and can monitor exposure more closely? Are you breastfeeding or not? How is your families' diet and nutritional intake? As we now know there is no greater immune supporter than breastmilk for babies and a more nutrient-dense diet makes more nutrient-dense breastmilk and can keep everyone in your family feeling great.
- Many pediatricians will tell you outright that the reason they use the CDC's recommended vaccination schedule is because they have the opportunity to see your baby more often and can administer them easily. Once a child is about 2 and if they are healthy, Well Child check-ups fall to once a year and are usually to track vitals like height and weight. It's hard to get a family in just for vaccinations. New babies typically visit the pediatrician at birth, 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and 1 year, plenty of opportunities for the various rounds that are recommended.
- Ask your pediatrician about the vaccinations they use in their practice. Who manufactured them? What are the ingredients (be sure they don't use vaccines with Thimerisol, a mercury containing compound)? Is there a way of getting the bundled vaccines as individuals? What are they "grown on" and how might that genetic material interact with yours?
- Don't let anyone bully or guilt you into a decision that doesn't inherently feel "right or good" to you. You do NOT have to vaccinate your child(ren) if you do not want to. Follow your heart and your gut feelings, your body can always be a great guide for you. You may find it frustrating when interviewing conventional pediatricians or shoot, if you are receiving government assistance for food through EBT or WIC and they tell you that they will not serve you if your child isn't "up on their vaccinations". For federal programs, this is illegal, for private practices, it's a type of discrimination. There are doctors out there that will support your decisions, keep searching until you find someone you really vibe with. If the federal programs are hassling you, print out their "eligibility requirements" and point out that there is no requirement for vaccinations on the list, they can not turn you and your child(ren) away.
- You'll find research to back both sides and enthusiastic speakers to get those messages out into the public. Understand where the research is coming from and look at it from all angles (Who's funding it? What are the numbers and equivalent percentages? etc.). Chris Kresser did a great article called "Behind the Veil: Conflicts of Interest and Fraud in Medical Research" recently. He's truly a healthy skeptic and an amazing researcher and to me, always shows the bigger picture in his writings, from the most un-biased vantage point you might find. What we both share is that we are results driven and aim to support our community in finding optimal health and happiness.
- Talk to other parents and get more perspective on their approach and what they ultimately chose to do. Take a class or attend a lecture on the topic, and try to find ones that are "pro" and "against" vaccinations to hear both sides of the story (both sound totally rational by the way).
- DO YOUR RESEARCH AND START TO FORMULATE YOUR PLAN BEFORE YOUR BABY IS BORN! The first recommended vaccines are for Hepatitis B at birth. If your baby is born in a hospital, you no doubt will be approached with getting this vaccine before heading home. This is done when you are exhausted and much more amenable to signing your name on any document that comes your way without a good thorough read.
As always, don't hesitate to let us know your thoughts and feedback. Feel free to share in our comments section or write to me directly! If you have a friend who might enjoy our newsletter and want to make sure they get great resources right in their inbox too, forward this message on and have them sign up for our mailing list (click the envelope icon in the upper right corner).
I'm oh so happy to support your growing family,