Saturday, October 24, 2009

To Vaccine, or Not to Vaccine...

That, dear readers, is the question.


"Experts on autism spectrum disorders believe that most cases are caused by a combination of genetic vulnerabilities and environmental factors. There may be hundreds of roads to autism, involving numerous combinations of genes and external factors."

So, folks, we've come to the question on alot of parents' minds, including those with non ASD kids. Do we vaccinate our kids? Is it safe to vaccine our kids? Can we not vaccinate them? Do we have to vaccinate for diseases that we hardly see anymore (polio, rubella, etc)?

And now, with the whole H1N1 outbreak; parents, school officials, city officials and health care workers are in a PANIC as to what the heck to do. Let us get back to the matter at hand.

Nathan had his yearly physical two days ago. They checked all the normal things they do during an exam. Nathan was positive he was getting a shot. He asked, "Mom, am I getting a shot?" I said, "No, buddy, you don't get any shots today." "How do you know?" he pressed. "Well, you've gotten all of your shots for now. I would tell you if you were getting a shot."  Which is true. I will tell him if he's getting a shot, but not until we get there. I don't need him in an angsty froth pondering all the ways the pain will slay him. But, this was about flu and H1N1 shots.

"I see he's had the flu mist at school," his doctor noted. "He can have the H1N1 mist in about a month. I'd give him the shot for it now, but I don't have any doses." I squirmed in my seat. I was still truly on the fence about the whole swine flu kerfuffle. He sensed my apprehension.

"What's your concern?" he asked. I had been truly worried about the vaccine, as it had been pushed out so quickly this year. I didn't know what it would do to him and honestly, I was afraid it might make him regress. Granted, Nathan's vaccinations were post 2001, so any of them with the exception of the flu didn't have thimerosal. His doctor said, "Well, there have been over 100,000 deaths with the swine flu, and more to potentially come. Nathan will not become more autistic if he gets this vaccination and truly, H1N1 is already here."  Hearing that made up my mind. I guess I needed to hear it from Nathan's doctor and not from someone on TV or on the internet. He wasn't condescending, it just made sense to me.

Now, I am not here to say that vaccines are good for everyone and everyone should get their child vaccinated. I am a proponent of taking care of your children and making educated choices and weigh those choices with a modicum of educated risk. Vaccines do not guarantee you will not get the disease, they help your body build an immunity (depending on your own immune system) to it, to help lessen it's effects. Some people react poorly to vaccines.  Sometimes when you're sick, and have the vaccines administered, it can wreak havoc on your immune system.

But also, there are times when you need to make that educated risk. Like Edward Jenner, who exposed his 8 year old son to cowpox pus in order to help him become immune to that and small pox, which was deadly in the 1770's. William Thomas Green Morton first used ether to perform dental surgery in 1845 and in 1928, Dr. William Fleming discovered penicillin in his lab.
So, I will be vaccinating Nathan. Do I believe that his early vaccinations lead to his autism? No, I don't think so. As stated earlier, I believe that it is a variety of factors which lead to this, both environmental and genetic. I am not here to make a stand for or against vaccines. I'm not on a soap box and preaching to the world that I have the answer. I don't. I continue to evaluate Nathan in regards to his medical health and well being. I continue to do as much reading and research as I can. I continue to listen to my gut, as it has always been the litmus test of what is the right thing to do. It may not be right for anyone else's child, but it is right for mine.


  1. Word to your opinions! As a kid of a doctor, I think you made your decisions very wisely and educated-ly. It also makes me quite happy to hear that your doctor was very responsive to your concerns - always a good take home message!

  2. Meredith,

    I am truly blessed with amazing doctors. All of Nathan's team just "gets" it! They are not condescending, don't pooh-pooh me and don't sugar coat things.

    Word to you, sistah!