One of my sons is fully vaccinated. The other is not. You might be wondering why I would choose to vaccinate one, but not the other. The answer is very simple. My sons reacted differently to vaccines. I am not anti vaccine. I am old enough to have seen the results of gestational rubella and measles in babies. I have seen children left deaf, blind and totally isolated from the world. Yes Helen Keller still learned to communicate, but most in such circumstances do not. I believe vaccines save a multitude of young lives, and yes, not vaccinating my son is frightening to me. But nearly as frightening as what happened when he was vaccinated.
When my son got his first injections in infancy he reacted with extreme crying alternating with lethargy. Crying was unusual in my son. I practice attachment parenting, and my son has very very rarely cried over 60 seconds. A very bad day as a newborn might have seen as much as 10 minutes of mild fussing over 24 hours, but given a vaccine he cried as if in severe pain. Not to worry said the dr, it is just a coincidence. The next time was worse, but again we were told not to worry. By the next time he was experiencing severe vomiting as well. I asked the Dr if we should consider giving him the next two vaccines on two separate visits. No I was assured, he would be fine.
He received the vaccines with almost no fuss, and seemed fine – for a few hours. Then the screaming began. His whole body clenched in agony, nothing could comfort him. He vomited, he screamed, then totally exhausted he shivered and whimpered. This went on for two weeks. He stopped talking. He stopped walking. When he crawled his arm would collapse and he would fall. The chemist noticed the drastic change in his personality and advised us to contact the Dr immediately. I told her we already had, the Dr on duty said vaccine side effects were a myth. She advised an emergency room, but admitted nothing could be done but to watch and wait. I felt we could do that better at home, at least he could breastfeed, sleep in my arms etc…
We were lucky. My child recovered in time. He regained his ability to walk and talk, although even now, almost a year later he can still fall if he crawls about playing cars. He is a beautiful, healthy, happy, child for which I am eternally grateful. I since learned our Dr.’s lose a very substantial amount of bonus money if targets are not met for vaccinating on time. So my failing to continue his vaccinations puts some bonus payments at risk. I am afraid this creates a conflict of interest. Three separate medical professionals have advised “off the record” not to vaccinate him again. But at the end of the day, until he is old enough to decide, i believe the choice should rest with my husband and myself. Yes I am terrified that he is not immune. I am more terrified the nest reaction could be worse. We are not irresponsible parents, we love both children. As the ones who know him best, who saw what happened to my son, the choice should be ours.
While I personally hope others will vaccinate their children who do not show allergic reactions as it also protects mine through “herd immunity” I would never dream of forcing a parent to vaccinate a child. Each parent must do as they feel best for each child.
On a side note – I also suffered horrific reactions to the MMR vaccine. Before receiving the vaccine as an adult I was very fit and healthy. Now I am crippled by lupus and fibromyalgia. My first flare was extreme joint pain, fever, and illness after the vaccine. I do believe this caused my autoimmune diseases. But this never made me question vaccination. I accept a few people will be injured to protect society as a whole, but not when it is my son, not when we know he is at higher risk of injury. I also believe as parents we have a right to an honest assessment of risk!