I’ve been trying to avoid this post. It’s not really needed, but I think every mommy blogger has to write one at some point. My last post about “How to Be Friends with Another Mom” got some nasty comments from a few people about my snarky # 6. Now I’ll admit I could have worded that sentence in a gentler, more tactful way. But I still believe in the sentiment behind it. If you don’t vaccinate your children, they could spread preventable diseases to my child, and I’d prefer to avoid that, so I’d rather not hang out.
I think besides child abuse, anything else a parent decides to do with their child–watching TV, formula-feeding, eating candy at six months–is their prerogative, and I just don’t care. However, the choice to not vaccinate your child can affect my child, so I care. Dr. Sears said in an interview with Salon: “I also warn them not to share their fears [about the MMR] with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.” Basically, don’t vaccinate your children, but keep it a secret because we really need other people to vaccinate their children.
This is a topic that my husband and I researched heavily while I was pregnant. I started in the possibly-don’t-vaccinate camp or Dr. Sears’ delayed-schedule camp, but here’s the thing: I couldn’t find any credible evidence to convince me that vaccinations were causing harm.
Dr. Sears’ alternate vaccine schedule is untested and doesn’t have any valid research studies to prove that it’s any better than the CDC schedule. Dr. Sears explains the harms of the aluminum in vaccines. However, the same Salon article explains “While the notion of injecting a metal like aluminum into a baby isn’t appealing to anybody, it has gone on for almost six decades. And it’s worth putting that aluminum in context. By 6 months, according to Paul Offit, breastfed babies take some 6,700 micrograms of aluminum. Formula fed babies take almost 40,000 micrograms (116,600 micrograms if they drink soy formula). In that same period of time, the cumulative dose of aluminum from vaccines on the schedule I use to immunize kids in my office is a mere 4,575 micrograms.” It sounds like vaccines are not the main culprit when it comes to aluminum entering our babies’ bodies. Not to mention, infants bodies can process aluminum just fine.
Dr. Sears has also shown himself to be unreliable on the cry-it-out front. He cites studies about stress levels in children whose parents let them cry at night, yet when I’ve dug deeper into his works cited, the studies are mostly about abused children or orphans. Allowing your child to cry for 30 minutes is a little different than not soothing a child for eight hours every day. Overall, Dr. Sears’ research methods are questionable.
Every parent worries about making the right choice about vaccinations. There’s so much fear out there on the internet for us to get caught in and lost in the chaos. At first, we were lost in the research. But we set aside anything that wasn’t totally credible. Then we made the choice to vaccinate Mae on schedule based on two reasons: there isn’t any good evidence proving we should do otherwise AND we don’t want to risk getting other kids sick based on our decision.
It was an evidence-based, community-minded decision.
We can’t know everything, but as a parent, I try to make the best decision for my child, but I also try to think about other children, and the world I want her to grow up in, one in which people look out for each other and do the right thing. They think about each other.
So, yes, if you don’t vaccinate your child, I don’t want our children to hang out often, but you probably have other friends who don’t vaccinate their children, and that’s fine. I hope you do have friends and I hope your children stay healthy.