The boys, who are almost nine and almost seven, were having a discussion about vaccines.
I know. I know. I didn’t realize it was something they thought about either.
They were talking about which things they were vaccinated against, what illnesses they were not, and which things they WISH a vaccine could be invented for.
I followed a pretty delayed vaccine schedule with my second and third baby. There were a couple of vaccinations they didn’t have at all. I also allowed only one single vaccination at a time and had to make many extra appointments in order to do this. Though I had misgivings and my head spun with information overload from both sides, I had my first child vaccinated on the recommended schedule until he was five.
That was the year Kansas started requiring the chicken pox vaccine for all children entering kindergarten in the public schools. You know you are old the first time you are discussing something and say “well, when I was that age…” But that is exactly what I did. I remember, very clearly, the chicken pox. I didn’t get it until seventh grade. My brother was in eighth grade, my sister third. How we managed not to contract it before then, I can’t imagine, save for general germophobia (I’ve talked about that before).
Anyhoo, we missed about two weeks of school, watched The Price is Right and whatever that show was where everyone yelled “NO WAMMIES!” and were generally itchy and miserable.
Now, please understand that I am not in favor of being itchy and miserable. If my job were one that I could not still complete (for the most part) with sick children and I would risk losing it, if my children were immunocompromised in some way, I would be vaccinating them for chicken pox. But I don’t, and they aren’t.
I want to declare, first of all, that I think vaccines are like everything else in the realm of parenting – there is a right answer for every family and none of those answers are the same. I am not criticizing anyone who did vaccinate for varicella (chicken pox) nor am I targeting families who have less vaccinations than mine. It is different for everyone and nobody has to do it the same way as we have chosen to.
I asked my family doctor - who I loved desperately and who then had the audacity to move away but I am holding out hope he’ll come back one day – what his views were on the chicken pox vaccine. He put it something along the lines of – my kids have had it but if you don’t think yours should then don’t, it’s really all about the drug companies making money and the economy of the country…less people missing work to take care of sick kids etc.
We all know businesses are out to make money. We all know that it is really hard to miss two weeks of responsibilities. I am not so sure about the risk of vaccines, though, and have developed a pretty serious distrust of the giant government structured organizations who are supposed to be overseeing our (health/food/veterans/financial sector/environment) who keep telling me that all of these vaccines are safe for my children.
After most of my kids were finished with vaccines, and already I was saying I would do it differently if I could go back, I read this book. It changed my views even more.
I am not anti-vaccine. I’m not anti-public health. I would still vaccinate my children if we were starting over, albeit without all those required for school attendance, and in a different order, and at different ages.
We did get the regular old chicken pox in the fall of 2007. None of the kids had a very bad case. Shooter was the worst with just 20 or so pox. I know they might not be completely immune with such a light illness, but I would still rather them be exposed again than to continue giving the pharmaceutical company my money for the continued boosters they keep recommending. It started as one shot when they are 2-4 years old to have immunity. Then it became a booster a few years later. Now it is continuous boosters to maintain immunity against the chicken pox. And they’ve come up with a shingles vaccine since they have seen a sharp rise in the cases of this particular (related) illness. Scientifically, they don’t know why, for sure. All I know is, health organizations are now recommending the shingles vaccine for a broad range of individuals. I’m sure the pharmaceutical company has deep regret that this age group does not attend public schools, which allows them to require their product be paid for (over and over again through the years a child attends school) in order for the child to attend. I wonder if they will start requiring the shingles vaccine in order to receive medicaide or medicare benefits?
We need health care reform in more than one way, but what I have learned since I have been mothering is to be my family’s own advocate, that doctors do not know everything, that there is misinformation circulating on both sides of these debates, and that a gajillion page bill and another giant government organization will not help with some of what I perceive to be the country’s best interest in terms of health care.
My children, however, during their conversation with one another, agreed that there should be a vaccine against puking. If the pharmaceutical companies really want to make some money, that is where it’s at.