Wednesday, February 4, 2009

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate. . .

What to do, what to do?

I have really been up and down the vaccination debate, and I just can't make a decision about what to do for dear baby boy #3.

With my first baby, I vaccinated, but delayed everything by about 6 months. I also opted to forgo the chicken pox vaccine (it just seems ridiculous - more later), but my baby was given it without my consent by a "well intending" doctor.

With #2, I did the same thing, but this time he really didn't get the Chicken Pox vaccine, and now these two are finished with their vaccinations until boosters in a couple of years, insha'Allah.
But, now we come to the question of baby A and what to do this time around. See, my research has evolved about vaccines. I always was on the fence about them and have never been really 100% convinced of their usefulness. There are all kinds of reports about the declining incidence of diseases regardless of vaccination rates of the populations; many times it is simply advances in general hygiene that have lead to the declining rates of disease. Polio is a great example, as is whooping cough, the latter of which declined similarly in the UK as in the US in the same years, when the UK was not yet vaccinating! So. . . at least there is some doubt in my mind.

However, do I go all the way to the other extreme and believe that all vaccines are harmful and that it is a huge corporate conspiracy to dumb us down and make money at the same time??? Not really. I guess I stand somewhere in the middle. . .
scratching my head wondering what in the world to do about it!
Ya Allah...

Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that my husband is in the medical field (and, therefore, thoroughly convinced of the usefulness and necessity of childhood vaccination) AND the fact that we do travel to third-world countries where the incidence of SCARY childhood diseases is much higher than in the US and the sanitation poorer (more on this later), I probably wouldn't vaccinate for anything at all!

While I know that many medical advances are nothing short of a great blessing from our Lord, I believe that medicine has gone too far in many areas - Obstetrics has taken over Midwifery, for example, when it should have remained reserved for those few special cases where it was the only way to save a mother and baby. And, in the area of vaccination, I do believe we have gone too far as well. Chicken Pox is a great example of my belief - why in the world are we now vaccinating for this disease? I remember when everyone understood that the best immunity to this disease, and the only immunity to last a lifetime, came from catching it and suffering through. Complications from Chicken Pox are rare; it is not something we are hoping to eradicate; and so instead of the fast burning (and possibly immune strengthening) disease of chicken pox, we are getting all of the risks associated with vaccines, PLUS, we are now ending up with adolescents (who are less likely to be up on their booster shots) getting more serious cases of the disease when their immunity wears off, and, worse yet, getting cases of shingles, a much more serious disease.

And so it is with other diseases that we commonly vaccinate for - like MMR. Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, are all diseases that rarely develop serious complications, yet the risks from the vaccinations are great. Not to mention the doubt of the efficacy of the vaccine itself.

So . . . what to do?
Foremost and ultimately, I depend on Allah, the most high. I know that whatever befalls my children, be it diseases I haven't vaccinated for, or complications from the vaccines themselves, has been decreed by Allah. May He protect us and all of the world's children - Ameen.
But, for now, a decision has to be made.
I could probably forgo most vaccinations - possibly even convince my hubby as well - but which ones do I deem necessary? We are planning to travel this summer, and I don't want to expose baby A to something that he wouldn't normally be exposed to here, or in a place with better sanitation. But, I also want to avoid as many vaccines as possible.

Please comment, sisters. Let me know what you all have done with your own children. . . what have you discovered amid all of the conflicting information out there?

Changing our Beliefs

"The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs. Self-conceit often regards it as a sign of weakness to admit that a belief to which we have once committed ourselves is wrong. We get so identified with an idea that it is literally a "pet" notion and we rise to its defense and stop our eyes and ears to anything different": John Dewey

How true!!