A vaccination post for the rest of us

In the spirit of keeping this a more light-hearted blog, I avoided the topic of vaccinations, as it is so divisive and stirs up some serious emotions in people. But, in light of several reports on Measles outbreaks and the backlash toward anti-vaccers, I am compelled to weigh in and share a perspective, which I imagine is shared by other parents.

Before my son was born, I was pretty sure I would skip or delay most if not all vaccinations. I was overwhelmed by the amount and was skeptical as to the necessity of each one. And to that end, I did not receive any vaccines during my pregnancy.

But when it came time for those first round of shots, I was torn. On the one hand, I wanted to protect my vulnerable newborn from scary diseases, but on the other I was a bit freaked out about the idea of shooting a bunch stuff into such a tiny body.

Fortunately for my family, we found a pediatrician who understands that one size does not fit all when it comes to vaccinations. While he does advocate and very much recommend the standard schedule, he is willing to work with parents to create an immunization plan that suits their child.

It is this personalization, which I feel is missing in the vaccination debate. The best example of this is the practice of giving newborns the Hepatitis B shot. Yes, Hep B is a serious Illness, but if both parents test negative for it and the baby has a low risk of exposure, why give him a shot he doesn’t need? In fact, my son’s pediatrician advised delaying it as he felt a newborn’s immune system was not yet developed enough to handle vaccinations.

So why should a newborn be vaccinated against a disease he is not likely to catch? The answer: some mothers do have Hepatitis B, and they can spread that to their babies during delivery. Therefore, because there’s a risk for some babies, all most be vaccinated. Hmmm.

Of course, the Hep B shot might be something to consider if you feel your child is likely to come in contact with a carrier, or you might simply want to avoid the need to vaccinate him later on. Whatever the reason, it should be a decision between you and your doctor.

As my son grows, is risk of exposure to diseases will increase, making it necessary for me to reevaluate what immunizations he needs. Working with my doctor, I will continue to provide what is best for my son. Likewise, I think all parents should do the same. Consider your child’s individual needs and find a doctor who will work with you to develop an immunization plan that you can be happy with.

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