May 6, 2014

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate

Getting a little rant-y and health-y on you.
A LONG while back my girl Kaitlyn was getting ready for her baby and did a bunch of great posts to get ready for baby. One of them was whether you should vaccinate or not.

This was my comment:
Okay I will get lengthy since I have a strong opinion here. I agree with Jackie above. Vaccines are to protect others as well. If all children were not getting vaccinated we would have a problem. As for the additives, it really doesn't bother me and here is why. Per the CDC vaccines may still contain aluminum, formaldehyde, human serum albumin, gelatin, antibiotics and yeast proteins. This is because things like aluminum salts, help the vaccine to work better. Other additives, such as human serum albumin (totally fine, yay protein!), help stabilize live viruses in the vaccine. And others, such as formaldehyde, antibiotics, egg proteins and yeast proteins, are left over in residual amounts from the way that vaccines are made. Formaldehyde is present in some of the vaccines on the childhood immunization schedule, including the flu shot, polio vaccine and DTaP vaccine, because it works to eliminate the harmful effects of these bacterial toxins and makes the viruses unable to replicate or reproduce themselves. The very small amount of formaldehyde that is left over in the vaccines that are given to kids is less than the amount naturally found in children and much less than that amount safely given to animals in research studies.

Vaccines really don't have true anti-freeze in them. Some vaccines do contain the additive 2-phenoxyethanol, which is an organic chemical compound, but it is not the same as antifreeze (ethylene glycol and propylene glycol). 2-Phenoxyethanol is also a glycol and doesn't sound much better than antifreeze, but it is a preservative that can help prevent bacterial and fungal contamination of the vaccine.

Vaccine additives do sometimes cause reactions, with the most common being allergic reactions to gelatin, Mycin drugs and eggs (flu shot and yellow fever vaccine) but these are pretty rare.

We humans have pretty great immune systems and I think for the rare risk of my child contracting an allergy and keeping him/her safe as well as other children safe from life threatening diseases, I will vaccinate my children. Notice I left out the other things such as asthma, ADHD, etc...from the list of risks, because I truly believe that those are not co-diseases specific to the instance of getting vaccinated. Many things will contribute to the fact of whether your kid has asthma or not.

Sources: CDC, my nursing experience, and my opinion. :-)
If you look to WebMD to investigate your symptoms you will come away convinced you are going to die.
Now to elaborate my position. Vaccines are a controversial issue and it is fraught with anger and frustration. Few topics are more apt to send my blood pressure up. Actually there are more, but let's talk about vaccines for right now. No contemporary phenomenon confuses me more than seemingly sensible people turning down one of the most helpful interventions in the history of modern medicine. 

Yet they do.

When I see parents or people that decline vaccines I usually stop all conversation because I have had too much conversation trying to change minds. But this is the problem...

The MMR vaccine does not CAUSE autism. The HPV vaccine is safe. The flu vaccine does not cause flu like symptoms the next day.

I can say all of this without hesitation because these concerns have been investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. No amount of data seems to be sufficient to convince people who hold contrary beliefs.

This is nuts to me. As a medical professional, I am now bending myself backwards to the task of reassuring patients of the safety of vaccines and come up short often. This is sad because there are plenty of other preventative medical measures I should be worrying about.

I don't want the patronizing "nurse knows best" in your mindset, but I do need for more patients to trust my training and experience. So I think it is the funniest thing when I tell my patient's how important vaccines are and they say no still, but also "trust me". I honestly have to ask how you trust me!

If the vaccines cause all the harms you believe they do, then my persistence in giving them must say something terrible about me. I wouldn't trust someone with my own health let alone my child's if they were terrible. Giving vaccines is honestly the easiest standard of care I can offer you, so if you don't trust me about that, how do you trust me when the questions and decisions get harder?

Just a thought. My thoughts. 


  1. AMEN!!! Thank you thank you for posting this. You are exactly right!!! It's a shame so many people these days don't read the above and understand!!

  2. Preach girl...too many people read websites that are not based on fact. It's so frustrating. And now after having Elliott, I can't imagine letting him play with kids who aren't vaccinated. It's so selfish for parents to make this decision for their poor helpless children who can't make it for themselves. End rant.

  3. I feel like this is a topic most people are unlikely to change their minds about. Because of my experience of growing up in a developing country where you DO have to worry about a lot of really awful diseases that are pretty much eradicated in developed nations, vaccinations are worth it. (Just got my typhoid booster since we're going back overseas!) In Malaysia, though, they only give vaccines to infants one at a time, and my sister who was born there never once had a fever after her shots in infanthood--if it were possible in the US, I would probably prefer to have my kids get one shot at a time rather than several shots at once, just because I think it's a little easier on the baby. However, because of the high cost of healthcare here and what insurance will and won't cover, that may not be possible in this country.

  4. I was actually the person who wrote for the "anti-vaccine" stance, although I'm not really anti vaccine. I'm more of the extended vaccine timeline type. I believe vaccines save lives and it's obvious that they prevent a host of diseases that aren't prevalent in America since we are such a highly vaccinated country. However, after talking with several doctors that I trust, I came to the conclusion that for us it would be best to do shots one at a time over a period of a few years. Just my personal preference. I'm flexible in that, however. I had Joshua get his dTap and his MMR vaccine sooner than I had planned due to outbreaks near our area. I think the important thing is for people to be flexible and not be so rigid in their opinions that they are willing to make risky decisions. Also, people need to be respectful of the choices others make, even if they don't like it. I hate the all out battles and name calling that the topic of vaccines almost always brings with it.


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