Originally published on The Moderate Mom.
Doctors and Trust
My kids have had all their vaccines on the standard schedule, except for Gardisal (not taken), Rotavirus (hunted down so my child could have it), and flu vaccines (they have them, but not every year).
I am not going to discuss the autism-vaccine link because it has been thoroughly debunked many places, but I can see why parents are starting to push back on vaccines for children. Sadly, it’s because our trust in our doctors and medical care in general has been eroded, badly, over the course of the last 20-30 years.
When most of us were children, our parents could trust their doctors to tell them what they needed to know. Today, doctors have to be so afraid of lawsuits (from patients, parents, and ambulance-chasing lawyers) that they are very limited in how much they are willing to discuss / disclose. Can you blame them? Really? I can’t. One bad decision, possibly simply in the words chosen in a conversation and not even in actual treatment, could cost them their practice, their livelihood, and even their home, if they were very unlucky.
We’ve had some really outstanding doctors in my family. In particular, we all loved the kids’ first pediatrician. He was the best doctor we’ve ever had and I trusted him entirely. He’s the one who helped get the Rotavirus vaccine for our youngest, a preemie who really needed the extra protection. He recommended the standard shot schedule, as did another pediatrician that I really respect, so we have stayed with it.
I wish I could say I trust all of the doctors we’ve had that much.
We moved across the country and, sadly, had to leave that pediatrician as a result. In the years since, more “recommended” vaccines have been added to the list. When our older son turned eleven and went in for his 6th grade shots, our pediatrician pushed to have him get the Gardisal vax. One pediatrician I respect immensely is part of a practice that requires 100% vaccinations – but not that vaccination. If even a 100% vaccination practice doesn’t require it, that makes me suspicious.
Our pediatrician told me that my eleven yr old son NEEDED it because he might, someday, have unprotected sex and, if that happened, the girl / woman MIGHT have the virus, which he MIGHT catch, and MIGHT pass on to another girl / woman – if he had unprotected sex with her! Seriously. That’s the reason the kids’ (now former) pediatrician gave me.
Since he was so adamant, I did some more research and found out that it’s three large, painful shots (compared to other vaccines) and the vaccine is good for several years (one study showed up to 6.4 years although it may be as long as eight years), but not for a lifetime, like the MMR shot. One study in Costa Rica has shown the same protection can be achieved with one shot instead of three. And then there are the more well-known problems with that vaccine, including serious documented side effects.
To summarize, the pediatrician pushed the shot because my eleven year old son might have unprotected sex with at least two girls before he was seventeen, and at least one of them (and not the most recent one) might have the exact viruses this vaccine protects against. Riiight. If they had at least waited until puberty hit they would have had a better chance of convincing me. Since they didn’t, their logic was beyond shoddy and he didn’t get it.
So, as much as I think all the “standard” vaccines (the ones with a decade+ track record) should be done in the recommended time-frame and schedule, SOME of the blame for parents reluctance to simply “do as they are told” ultimately falls on the medical community and bureaucrats for adding on questionable vaccines that ultimately seem to just add money to the bottom line of big pharma.
In addition, over the last 50 years, the number of required / recommended vaccines has skyrocketed. In 1950, a six year old had seven vaccines. In 1974, it was thirteen. Today, it’s 36. THIRTY SIX. And that’s just the ones they get by age six. There are more to be received after that. In some cases, kids cannot attend public school if they don’t receive them! Of the listed countries in that article, half receive 18 or fewer. Kids in Isreal, Japan, Iceland, and Sweden receive a mere eleven, less than one third the vaccines an American child the same age has had by age six.
Again, just to be clear – I don’t agree with skipping core vaccines, including MMR, unless you are one of the tiny minority with a genuine health reason. (Those few are the reason “herd immunity” is so important.) As a parent, it is important to take the time to actually look at what is being required, how long it has been required, and the potential side effects and balance that against your child’s well-being.
Personally, I absolutely oppose Gardisal. Among other things, it can activate Lyme Disease in those who have been exposed with catastrophic effect. While that is a “rare” side effect, I live in an area where Lyme Disease is NOT rare, so it’s a significant factor. I also generally dislike the flu vaccine because it doesn’t seem to do much most years. However, there are times when it’s a good idea, such as for a person in a high risk group including those with a compromised immune system or severe asthma.
The single most important thing is to listen to your doctor. Have a real conversation. If you don’t agree, then do research. One of the questions to ask the doctor is how long the vaccine has been used and how widely. If it is used in most developed countries and has been since the 60’s or 70’s, odds are good that it’s safe. If it has only been used in a handful of countries and for no more than a few years? Those are the shots to question.
In the debate on vaccines, it is important to remember that there are quite literally dozens of them today. Some are clearly in everyone’s best interest to take to ensure that “conquered” illnesses stay that way. Others? Honestly, for some of them, the biggest incentives I can see behind them are to ensure Big Pharma makes Big Bucks.