Thursday, October 22, 2009

All vaxed up and nowhere to go. Wait, scratch that-- now we're going EVERYWHERE

When Harry had the plague the other week, we had to cancel our flu shot appointments because he was sick. The nurse at our pediatrician's office told us we couldn't reschedule because their official line was that they were out of the seasonal flu shot. But, she told us, they had enough vaccines to give to babies who came in for their well-child check ups, and if we brought the whole family we could all get vaccinated under the table kind of.

That's what we did-- we kept Harry out of school, causing him to miss a field trip to a nature conservancy to get a shot in the leg- ha!. It always sucks to bring the whole fam to well-child visits because with all of us crammed in the exam room, we don't get to give Jack's development the attention it deserves. The highlight of the trip came when our doctor said we are obviously doing a great job with our kids in regards to positive discipline because we are so good at making them do what we want them to do. I looked at Harry and said, "Ha ha, you're brainwashed," and he leapt from his chair and kicked me in the shins. Then we all cracked up, even Jack, who I am sure had no idea what was funny because he was too busy licking the diseased exam-room books.

When our doctor told us that he had the H1N1 vaccine and the seasonal shot, we were like, "Bonus!" and Harry got the H1N1 mist and a seasonal shot; Jack got both in shot form, and Ben and I both got our seasonal shots. (We have to get the OK from our own doctors to get the HN1 vaccine because he lacks a kidney and my autoimmune disease is flaring up. Luckily the boys both need 2 doses of H1N1, so when we go back in 30 days, Ben and I can get misted, too).

My point is we got the shots without a second thought-- were happy to get them. But then I came home and started reading Facebook and the creepy message board I frequent and found all these stories of moral agony as parents wrestled with the vaccine question. And then all these people would respond to discussion threads about how "they" rushed out the shot, or our society is too vaccine happy, or the flu is all media hype anyway.

What the hell? If infectious disease doctors, pediatricians, the AAP, the CDC, doctors with degrees in public health, etc are warning against this strain of flu and advising a flu vaccine, WHY DON'T YOU TRUST THEM? Is there something I am missing here? Where is the moral agony?

The thimerosol argument is surfacing again (although there is a mercury-free version of the vax), but even the link between vaccines and autism is NOT a proven link, so what's the deal?

I've used my library databases and journal indexes (as well as Dr. Google) to do some research, and I haven't found ANYTHING that makes me think twice about the shot, so where does this drama come from? What am I missing? Please, enlighten me because I am really confused.


  1. I don't get it either... Our pediatrician hasn't gotten their order for the H1N1 and I'm sort of freaking out! I am all for vaccinating my kids - I've weighed the pros and cons and I think the benefits far outweigh the risks (I don't agree with the vaccination => autism connection). I also know of folks that aren't able to get lots of vaccines (my mom being one of them because she had Guillien Barre when she was young) and rely upon others immunity to protect them from disease. So yeah, I'm in the same boat. Why all the haters?

  2. Like I said on Facebook, a lot of it comes down to how they were :marketing" it before it was available - as a totally new vaccine. I heard from doctors that they were going to wait at least a month to get it because of the many unknowns and rush for the vaccine. Then it finally came out that it is just the normal seasonal flu vaccine variant, and my fears (and those of doctors) were greatly diminished. Now the problem is the lack of availability. They are short on the normal flu vaccine here and haven't even gotten the H1N1 variety beyond the hospitals. So, I am holding off. I have never had the flu. I have only been sick (other than pregnancy related) twice in ten years, and those were very mild. Therefore, I don't think I am at a huge risk of getting either form of flu...

  3. Anonymous10:32 AM

    we were told that at 80 and 89, we've built up immunity to most flu strains and should only get the seasonal shots, which we did....Bomma

  4. Did you see the special on NBC with Matt Lauer a while ago about the doctor who first published the paper promoting the autism and MMR vaccine link? I can't remember the doctor's name, but what I do remember is that his work is rife with conflict of interest problems (the landmark study he published about MMR was paid for by a pharma company who had big financial interest in splitting up that vaccine into individual components, and he had financial interest as well and the patent if I remember correctly) and I think all of the co-authors of that study have now retracted their support. In spite of this information (which is public knowledge and did get media coverage), this doctor is a hero for parents of children with special needs. I really feel for those parents, but I do not believe that this man's science shows what he says it does and I would like to think if I had a child with special needs, I would not think that vaccines are the culprit. His work has not been replicated yet, and it has been tried many times. But people still believe him anyway.

    I think a lot of the fear about vaccines comes from lack of knowledge and also believing what is read in the media without researching independently. One of my child's preschool teachers told me she'd rather have her son naturally exposed to the flu instead of a shot, and that is such backwards thinking. "Natural" exposure is a much higher dose (and you'll likely get sick) whereas a vaccine has either small amounts of virus, enough to get the immune response started.

    I've read a few articles in our local paper advocating strengthening the immune system instead of vaccinating (like getting enough sleep and eating well so your immune system is in tip top shape to fight off whatever), and though I think that is a good idea, I think we should still get vaccinated because herd immunity is the only way to protect certain members of the population.

    My kids both had their flu shots at their well baby visit, and our clinic is also advertising that they are out of the shots (which they aren't, obviously). I couldn't get one because they are only giving them to children, but I'll go to a drug store to get my seasonal one. We don't have access to the h1n1 vaccine, and I have a feeling we won't for a while. But, I am pretty sure my entire family was already exposed from my husband, who is still recovering (he has respiratory symptoms, which we are watching closely since h1n1 seems to be hitting people our age and younger the hardest). The rest of us have not become sick, and apparently, lots of the roommates of sick students on campus have not become sick either. Which is reassuring...

  5. Um, I just ranted about this yesterday in my own blog. Seriously, it super pisses me off that I'm being encouraged by other moms to not trust my doctor. That they are all pill pushers for pharmaceutical companies. Really? Cause I'm thinking he knows more than me due to his education and training. I'm gonna go ahead and trust my doctor, thanks.

  6. It's probably the same group of people who believe things they hear on Fox News.

    I would be getting mine vaccinated if they actually had the vaccine! Wes has had one round of seasonal, but can't get the booster because they ran out. Charlie gets the nasal mist on Friday for H1N1, but can't get seasonal. I haven't gotten either even though I can do it at the grocery store any of the ten times a week I go there because I am lazy. Not good.

    I wonder if anyone in the "big pharma is only after my money" camp has ever witnessed a child disabled for life by polio. It's truly bizzare how this movement, based on faulty science, has caught on.

  7. So happy to hear about all the other pro-vaxers!

    Stephanie-- I thought that, too when it was being hyped as a new vaccine, but I also changed my mind (obviously)

    Kim-- YES! The Lancet article! Totally retracted and didn't the doc get into professional trouble? Great example.

  8. Both my kids will get the H1N1 as soon as our doctor deems them able (right now you can only get it from the office if you are between 2-4 yo with a sibling less than 6 months old) and they got their seasonal vax in September. I got my piggy flu vax yesterday since I am in the most high-risk group. Yay me.

    I think people take advantage of all the parents who DO vaccinate by saying they don't need to vaccinate their kids because everyone else does. But remember that measles outbreak in Wisconsin two years ago? Caused by an unvaccinated kid at daycare and a lot of the kids who got sick were babies who weren't eligible to get the MMR shot because they were under 1 yo.

    Anyway, I also wanted to comment that my sister has one kidney too! Weird -- never knew anyone else with that except her, and she didn't even find out until she was 28!

  9. Kaleb got his seasonal, but they didn't have the we all have it. Damn, that vaccine would have been much better than this. If only they had it :(

  10. Oh Heidi that SUCKS. Are you guys okay? I wish we lived closer and could help you out-- I cannot imagine trying to take care of a kid while having the flu!!

  11. Hahaha! Fox news! Hahaha!

    Pro-Vax here. Though Emma has the oink flu right now as we speak. We're being immunized through exposure! AND we'll still get the vaccine when everyone is well, just in case!

    Already received seasonal vax.

    Fox news. Becca, you could surely be a friend of mine!

  12. Kim S7:57 AM

    I so want to say something, but have nothing to add. Is it a sign that my word verification is "fackinn"? I think lots of kids are diagnosed with autism around the time of the MMR vaccine is given.

    I went to a little festival at the local elementary school about a month ago that was put on by a group who works in schools with kids with autism. There was a group there that had something about curing autism in their name. I'm an a$$, so I asked if curing autism was actually possible (knowing it isn't). At least they said no, but said that kids can "recover". Not sure I buy that, either.

    Anyway... all of that being said, we are going to the county health department to get the seasonal flu shot. I think the hospital in which I work (I am employed by the university, but am located in the hospital b/c I work in research compliance) is having an H1N1 clinic this Saturday, so we may hit that up, too.

    Incidentally, the dude who published false research findings surely got into professional trouble, too. We suspended someone from doing research for 2 years for publishing false info. And then he has to take a research ethics course from the NIH or similar group and request the suspension be lifted at the end of the 2 years.

    Guess I had lots to say... just not about vaccines. :)

  13. Kim S7:59 AM

    Oh - not saying vax cause autism. Just throwing that out there as a possible reason why some parents are so fanatical about it.

  14. Erica2:48 PM

    Dr. Paul Offit has quite a nice book on the subject, though some anti-vaxers say he's got pharma ties (he developed a couple of vaccines). A review can be found here:

    I've only read pieces, but it's a good resource if you're interested in learning more.

    On a completely unrelated note--do you/your kids eat eggplant? I found the most delicious recipe for eggplant parmesan. All it is is eggplant, tomato sauce, bread crumbs, and cheese, and it's not fried, so it's healthier.

  15. I will just say that I agree with you here and leave it at that because the whole vaccine argument and people not getting it bceause our vaccinated kids will keep their helthy makes me VERY angry and I don't want to get all worked up. Glad to hear you are all back to health and plan to stay that way!

  16. Ok, how GROSS are the books at the ped's office? I find them the single most scheevy thing my children regulalry come into contact with, and we live in NTC. I always want to put on surgical gloves before I touch them.

    I'm not sure what to make of all the vac hysteria. I am a devotee of my ped who I trust blindly and I am planning on calling him tomorrow to tell me what to do, free thinker that I am. But it is kind of a moot point here because there is no H1N1 vaccine as far as the eye can see, so far. No doc offices have it - at all.

  17. I love the way you tell a story. LOL

    I'll admit that Husband and I have been going back and forth over whether or not to get the H1N1 vax for E, but we're leaning closer to getting it than not--if we can ever find it.

  18. Sarah, I really respect that you have a solid sense of acceptance on this subject (talk about tongue twister Sally seashore). I thought I had one too until I called our Doc and was surprised to learn that he wasn't in favor of the vaccines. Tonight I read this article that was passed on to me and it really has me questioning this struggle even more. Here it is

  19. Gina, thank you so much for the link. I checked out her website, and it;s very cool. The problem for me is that she is anti-vax in general, so it makes sense that she'd be anti-H1N1 vax, too, you know?

    I agree with Nicole about blindly trusting the pedi-- that's what I do, too.

    I do not buy the argument that this shot is bad b/c it was rushed (many docs and scientists will argues that it was developed on the same time line as the seasonal vax). I also think kids are exposed to heavy metals in our air and awful chemicals in our corrupted food supply and that these toxins are more relavent than anything they get from shots.