Monday, February 4, 2013

Eight Questions to Ask Before Vaccinating Your Child

Disclaimer: This is a personal opinion piece. I am not a doctor. This article is not intended to be medical advice. 

Vaccines are a hot button issue for sure. There is buzz going around that immunizations that may or may not work (or worse, cause injury). Some vaccines contain known neuro-toxins such as aluminum. At the same time, I see at least one commercial a day urging parents to vaccinate themselves and their children for everything from the flu to HPV.

Regardless of what the vaccine is for, make sure you ask these eight questions for each vaccine suggested for your child before you consent:
  1. Vaccine Name:
  2. Does it contain aluminum or other known neuro toxins?
  3. How much does my child weigh? Translate into kilograms (KG):
  4. Multiply KG weight by 4 (4mcg per KG of body weight is recommended daily limit for aluminum)
  5. How many Micrograms (mcg) of aluminum are in the vaccine? 
  6. Is there more more aluminum in this vaccine than recommended for my child at his current weight (question 4)? 
  7. Is our child at risk for contracting the disease this vaccine prevents? 
  8. If he were to contract this disease, is it life threatening? 

Hepatitis B
Here is what that set of questions looks like when filled out with the information for the Hepatitis B shot, which is currently recommended for all newborns.
  1. Vaccine Name: Hepatitis B
  2. Does it contain aluminum or other known neuro toxins?: Yes, aluminum
  3. How much does my child weigh? Translate into kilograms (KG)10.3 lbs --> 4.6KG
  4. Multiply KG weight by 4 = 17.84
    (this is recommended upper limit of mcg of aluminum to receive per day to avoid brain damage or other undesirable side effects)
  5. How many Micrograms (mcg) are in the vaccine? 225-450 per dose, depending on brand
  6. Is there more more aluminum in this vaccine than recommended for my child at his current weight? YES - 12-25 times more than recommended daily limit
  7. Is our child at risk for contracting the disease this vaccine prevents? No (Hep B is transmitted by birth if the mother is Hep B positive, intravenous drug use and unprotected sex. I do not have Hep B. My newborn is not having sex or doing drugs.)
  8. If he were to contract this disease, is it life threatening? Rarely

Based on this information, we decided NOT to get the Hepatitis B shot for our son. The main deciding factors were that the aluminum load of the vaccine greatly exceeded the recommended daily limit for a child his weight. Taking this risk was not worth it to us because he is not at risk for the disease.


So am I anti-vaccine?
I'm certainly anti Hep B to newborns (we're going to wait until our son is older - probably about 12 years old to start Hep B). People who are reading this and getting angry about now will be interested to know that I am not anti-vaccine. Instead, I am all about parents making informed decisions about which vaccines are right for their families.

Here is an example of that the questions look like when filled out for a vaccine we did choose:

Vaccine Name: Hib
Does it contain aluminum or other known neuro toxins? No. Our doctor uses aluminum-free hib vaccines
How much does my child weigh? Translate into kilograms (KG): n/a
Multiply KG weight by 4 (4mcg per KG of body weight is recommended daily limit for aluminum)= n/a
How many Micrograms (mcg) of aluminum are in the vaccine? Zero
Is there more more aluminum in this vaccine than recommended for my child at his current weight (question 4)? No
Is our child at risk for contracting the disease this vaccine prevents? Yes, invasive hib occurs most often from 3 months- 3 years of age
If he were to contract this disease, is it life threatening? YES Hib can cause a wide variety of serious infections, including pneumonia, severe throat swelling that makes breathing difficult (epiglottitis), and infections of blood, bones, joints, and the covering of the heart. Complications of Hib meningitis include blindness, deafness, mental retardation, learning disabilities, and death. About 5% of children (500 out of every 10,000) with Hib meningitis die despite antibiotic treatment.

Using this information, we chose Hib because the vaccine is low-toxin and low-risk while the disease itself has a significant risk of complications.


Don't let anyone tell you that vaccines are all or nothing. You can absolutely pick and choose and decide to selectively vaccinate your child.

But what about school?
What happens if you decide a vaccine is not right for your child but it's on the required list for public school students in your state?

Many states offer religious exemptions from vaccine requirements. Depending on your state, your religious exemption clause may also include wording to include philosophical persuasions in their definition of "religion."

Our pediatrician has a great set of online videos about vaccines including one about claiming religious exemptions from vaccines. If you choose not to vaccinate (or selectively vaccinate) your child and are worried about public school, be sure to check it out:

*Please note. I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. This article is intended to be informative in nature but should not be considered medical advice. Be sure to discuss the issue of immunizations with your child's pediatrician.

**I highly recommend The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child by Dr. Robert W. Sears for parents interested in finding out more information about vaccines from a trusted medical professional.

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8 comments:

  1. Did you complete these questions for the other recommended vaccines? I am interested to see those answers as well! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved reading the answers to the eight questions regarding the Hep B vaccine. Did you answer the same questions for the other recommended vaccines? I would be interested in reading your answers! We have already declined the Hep B vaccine but are unsure of what to do about the rest! Thank you for your help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't answer these questions specifically on my site but here is an example of what it would look like for a vaccine we did choose:

      Vaccine Name: Hib
      Does it contain aluminum or other known neuro toxins? No. Our doctor uses aluminum-free hib vaccines
      How much does my child weigh? Translate into kilograms (KG): n/a
      Multiply KG weight by 4 (4mcg per KG of body weight is recommended daily limit for aluminum)= n/a
      How many Micrograms (mcg) of aluminum are in the vaccine? Zero
      Is there more more aluminum in this vaccine than recommended for my child at his current weight (question 4)? No
      Is our child at risk for contracting the disease this vaccine prevents? Yes, invasive hib occurs most often from 3 months- 3 years of age
      If he were to contract this disease, is it life threatening? YES Hib can cause a wide variety of serious infections, including pneumonia, severe throat swelling that makes breathing difficult (epiglottitis), and infections of blood, bones, joints, and the covering of the heart. Complications of Hib meningitis include blindness, deafness, mental retardation, learning disabilities, and death. About 5% of children (500 out of every 10,000) with Hib meningitis die despite antibiotic treatment.

      Using this information, we chose Hib because the vaccine is low-toxin and low-risk while the disease itself has a significant risk of complications.

      Delete
    2. Thanks again for your comment, Erin. I moved the information about Hib into the main body of the post as I think it will be useful for people to see what it looks like for a vaccine we did choose.

      Delete
  3. We already declined hep b for our new born and are looking to get more information to make a decision on what is right for us going forward. Great line of questioning to give a jump start.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have read all three of your post on vaccines. Based one what I am reading that really limits what vaccines your kids do receive? Do you mind sharing what vaccines you do give you kids? Or recommended resources to do my own research to come to my own conclusion? I am not the best at independent research.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am planning to do a separate post next month on the modified vaccine schedule we are using for our children. There are some vaccines we are declining all together (Guardasil, whooping cough and MMR) and some that we are delaying.

      I highly recommend The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears (http://amzn.to/1cBbxgP) as a great starting place to do research on vaccines to learn what the vaccine is for and what is in it.

      Delete
    2. We are tryingt to come up with an alternative schedule for our unvaccinated 8 month old. I am enjoying all of your posts on vaccines. I do have Dr Sears book and plan on using it to help in our decisions. I'm looking forward to reading about your modified schedule

      Delete

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