Monday, March 30, 2009


So I just commented on Dooce's post about vaccines.
The non-vaccine route makes me nauseous. That's me. I don't expect anyone to agree, but there it is. My view stems from a lot of things: being a vaccinated kid, a scientist, working at an institute that is super-cutting-edge whose research focuses hugely on vaccines (cancer-curing vaccines!) and more than anything, from standing in a pediatric ward (if you can even call it that) in the middle of Kenya. Good lord. There are no words. To this day, it still makes me upset. I stood amongst dying children 90% of whom had something fixable, but would die because they had no access to what they needed - from surgery to vaccines. About 10% had devastating burns.
Like I said....there just aren't words for what I saw. I can't even....

So I decided, to trying and lighten my spirits on a Friday afternoon and feel more badass, I would list the things I am "immune" to (in quotes for those who think vaccines are a conspiracy and I'm not really immune to anything):

german measles
polio (US)
(here's where it gets fun)
polio (rest of the world)
hepatitis A
hepatitis B
yellow fever
HPV 6,11,16 & 18

**some strains this year....duh
*** not really immune, I just would not require RIG or 5 vaccines, I'd be a-ok with 2 shots, ideal for traveling in a rural setting.

hmmm. I feel significantly more badass, I must say, even though the likelihood of contracting yellow fever on my way to the T is practically impossible.

Well it's 63 degrees, balmy for Boston. I'm off to walk to the train without a coat!
Have a good weekend all, be back soon.


Elizabeth said...

Al, how do you feel about spacing vaccine shots out so as to not give kids so many at once? Obviously this is a possibility granted by first world privilege, even more so than the fact that we have access to vaccines in the first place, but to me it seems like a happy medium. Do we need to vaccinate our children? I believe we do. Should we do it in as few shots and doctor visits as possible, just in case we're not able or willing to get back to the doctor for the rest? I don't think so. Not if it's a matter of convenience and scheduling. Because some kids do react to vaccines, not necessarily by developing autism, but by getting a mild case of the disease or showing signs of other cognitive distress. In the family I stayed with during my BIT training, there was a 5 year old and two 3 year old twins. One twin had perfect, easy to understand speech, and the other twin's speech was so garbled it took me days to understand even the most basic sentences. After we learned about the vaccine balance in class, Alex went home and we tested her kids to see if they had had a reaction to the vaccines. The five year old was fine, one twin was fine, but the twin who's speech was delayed showed a reaction to one component of a multi-disease vaccine shot. The thing with these side effects is that they don't happen in most cases, but they happen enough that it makes me pause. I want my kids (and myself!) to have a vaccine list like yours, I just want it a little more slowly than some pediatricians currently prescribe.


Al said...

Thoughts: I don't have strong feelings on spacing. I think that's up to the parent and the pediatrician. I would obviously never make a health decision for my child based on what is convenient for me (e.g. choosing to have a c-section so as to deliver on a convenient date, choosing to give my kid a bunch of shots they may or may not be able to handle because I can't get back to the office, etc). I'll have to put my trust in the doctors, and I'm ok with doing that. Maybe by the time I have kids the vaccination schedule will have changed, maybe not. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I'm lucky because living here in America, I know I'll have options and choices (though no amount of convincing will ever make me anti-vaccine). I still can't help but to think of all the mothers in Africa who'd take a delayed child or an autistic child over one that dies from a preventable childhood illness. It's just so sad, and so many people simply don't understand that they're worrying about something that is so foreign to the rest of the world just desperate to get their children the most basic health care. sad.