When I was a child I remember getting the polio vaccine and the DPT (diptheria/pertussis/tetanus). My generation had fewer vaccines during childhood compared to today. It was expected that we would get the measles and the mumps—and we did. It was not a big deal.
The vaccine schedule has grown. My youngest son received the DPT, polio, HIB (haemophilus influenzae type B) and the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella). The year following his birth, the hepatitis B was rolled out. The hep. B vaccine protects against infection from sexual activity or contact with a needle that had been used by an infected person. This vaccine was being given to infants at 24 hours of age. I was glad that my son did not get it, because it didn’t make sense in the risk-benefit assessment.
My daughter had a history of vaccine reactions as a child—fever and irritability. She also had a history of allergies—that flared after the MMR. As a nursing student she was persuaded to get the hepatitis B vaccine because she might have contact with infected blood. But following the vaccine she developed fibromyalgia and had to withdraw from school for a semester. And so I began to wonder about vaccines.
I learned that the MMR vaccine is developed from aborted fetal cells. Scientists have noted that the vaccine contains fragments of human DNA. If I had known this at the time of vaccination I would have refused the MMR for my children.
The current vaccine schedule has many additional vaccines. Click here to see the CDC recommended schedule of vaccines. The chicken pox, hepatitus A, rotovirus, penumococcal and annual flu vaccine have been added. Do we understand the effect of this many vaccines on the immune system of a child?
Much has been said about herd immunity. We are told that we should vaccinate our children to protect the health of others. The concept of herd immunity is being questioned as cases of whooping cough turn up among vaccinated children. An immunologist takes a careful look at vaccines and herd immunity. Click here to read her open letter to California legislators.
For these reasons I believe in a cautious approach to vaccines. Parents should be informed of the risks and benefits. Parents (especially mothers) have the best knowledge of their child and family history. Parents should have the right to make decisions about each vaccine.