Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

On inoculations

When pregnant with Madeleine, I was a habitual Babycenter visitor. One day the survey question was, "Will you have your baby immunized?" I was dumbfounded at first, under the impression that the question was ridiculous. They may as well have asked "Are you going to feed your baby?"
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw the results, though. Something like 40% of respondents said "No." I was aghast, then worried. What was I missing? I followed some of the linked sites to fears of autism, epilepsy, learning disabilities, even death.
I took my concerns to my husband first. He pointed out statistics, weighting them, Internet surveys tend to be skewed. I was somewhat reassured but looked further.
I asked my mother. "What do you think about childhood inoculations, Mom? There are those who are skipping them for fear of side effects."
My mother is smarter than she gives herself credit for, and her mind is untainted by overeducation. She looked me square in the eye and said simply, "My sister died of diptheria, Heather."
Oh. Yeah. See, my mother hails from the Silent Generation. She had classmates in school in the fall, gone for some months over the winter, and return in the spring in a wheelchair due to polio. She had classmates feverish on Tuesday, absent on Wednesday, and dead by Saturday because of measles. She lost her sister. Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, we don't have those memories. We remember shots at the doctor but not deaths of classmates. That puts a little perspective on it.
Long story short, we got the shots.
In talking with other moms later, one said, "There are so many things out there you can't protect your child from. Why not protect them from what you can?" That makes sense, too.
These folks opting out of all immunizations for ideological reasons are the same ones who don't do antibiotics or tell me we did wrong in getting tubes for Madeleine. I agree that overuse of antibiotics--any medicine, really--is bad. But untreated otitis media can lead to hearing loss, people. And antibiotics save lives.
Which brings me to the new shot--Gárd*ásil (accents for googlers). It's the best thing for our girls, we're told. Some states are making it mandatory! If it were that great, parents would be storming their doctors' offices and you'd have to take a number. Like flu shots.
But some have qualms about it. How is this different from the rest of the shots?
For one, it protects against a disease not caught by casual contact, the way so many others are. Certain, ahem, behavior is required, not usually occurring in schools. It protects against some forms of the disease which cause most cases of cervical cancer. Great. Translated: even nonsmokers can get lung cancer; even men can get breast cancer; even virgins can get cervical cancer. So the shot doesn't prevent anything, it just reduces the risk.
Okay. If you buy into that mentality, why not put all girls on the Pill at age 9? It reduces the risk of pregnancy, right? Far more effectively than Gárd*ásil protects against HPV. The same action is necessary, right? "If they're going to do it anyway..."
"What if your daughter was raped?" See previous paragraphs. If we're going to think that way, when can we expect the shot for boys who would be perpetrating said rape?
"What if she marries a man with it?" Hey, she's only five. They've got probably 20 years. Maybe they'll have a test by then. Maybe they'll have a shot for men by then. Maybe I'll raise her to have higher standards than that. Maybe all of the above.

I have some other questions about this one, this presumption that "they're going to do it anyway." Where is the shot to protect their souls? How do I inoculate against the harm to their psyche by engaging in adult behavior while still a child?



At 8:36 PM, Blogger The Mom With Brownies (The story of us) said...

This is going to sound blunt but I don't know how to type it withough sounding blunt and well, you know me so here goes.

All I can say is this. I have a dear friend who is dying in Kentucky because she got it from her husband of 18 years. I graduated with a man whose wife died of it. She left 2 children. I have personal experience with it that I won't go into on this board and I have another dear friend who caught it early enough to be treated. I would hate for my daughter to make a mistake or for her husband to make a mistake and lose her life because of it. Sins can be forgiven, death is forever. But I don't have daughters so take it for what it's worth.

At 5:54 AM, Blogger Milehimama said...

Mom with Brownies,
Death is not forever. In fact, death is not even total - our souls continue. The worst thing in the world is not dying, it is going to Hell.

I don't think it's fair to assume that people who don't immunize their children according to the State schedule are automatically medical Luddites, who hate antibiotics. Our children are immunized according to what we, as their parents, have decided they need - and I have no problem with taking advantage of modern medicine!
My problem with Gardasil is that it is being mandated by the state without having a proven benefit for girls that young. It hasn't been tested on girls that young. The doctor that ran the clinical trials recently came out and said her recommendations were for it to be given to women age 18 after a HPV test. The average age of cervical cancer diagnosis is 48 - can Merck really guarantee a shot at age 9 will protect a woman from HPV for almost 40 years?

Mama Says

At 9:13 AM, Blogger The Mom With Brownies (The story of us) said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger The Mom With Brownies (The story of us) said...

My freind Renee is 40 and dying. My friends wife died at 28. The other two women were diagnosed and cured at 21 years old. The statistic you gave of 48 years old is just a statistic. I've come to understand that the old saying is true.."there are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics." I don't hang my hat on that when I witness something very different.
This disease is real and growing everyday.

I agree with your observation about death. You are right. Our souls continue in Heaven or in Hell. Somehow that doesn't give me peace to allow my daughter to die for her sin or her husband's sin, when there is a preventative measure in place.

If I had a daughter I would immunize at 13 and prompt them to get a booster at 18. Maybe if this disease had not touched my life I would think twice about the shot. Who knows? I understand the knee jerk reaction to refuse. New things being injected into our kids is scary but this disease is scary too.

To each her own.


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