Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Vaccine Debate

I have been struggling for a while now about what to do about vaccines for Sarah Graves.  Aaron and I agree that she needs to have some of the major ones, but after that we aren't sure what to do. 
I talked to a family friend who is an Ob/Gyn in Louisiana and he recommended a book on vaccines by Dr. Stephanie Cave.  Who would believe that she specializes in treating autism spectrum disorder in Baton Rouge!  I read the book last week (in all the spare time I have :) ) and learned of all the research out there on adverse reactions to vaccines and possible linkages between vaccines and autism as well as autoimmune disorders.  Her book convinced me that vaccines have to have some role in all of this.
The possible linkage with autoimmune disorders really scares me.  In her book she describes studies that have found that certain vaccines may increase the likelihood of a child developing insulin dependent diabetes, asthma, crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and guillain barre syndrome.  Jeanne' has guillain barre and I know how that can impact a person's life. The risk of Sarah Graves developing one of those makes me anxious.
Dr. Cave recommends an alternative vaccine schedule.  Her schedule delays the first vaccine until age 5 months and then she would get only one vaccine at a time.  Dr. Cave also recommends checking the blood titers to determine if she has immunity after the first round of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and only give the booster if she doesn't have immunity.  One major problem with Dr. Cave's schedule is that she recommends splitting up the MMR so that a separate vaccine is given for each disease rather than the combination of all 3 at once; however, the manufacturer no longer makes the separate vaccines.  I called Dr. Cave's office and got her email address to inquire about what she now recommends parents do for the MMR.
As nervous as I am about potential side effects, it also makes me anxious to think of her developing something like whooping cough because we delayed giving the vaccine to her in order to give her immune system more time to develop and mature. 
Mom and I met with a pediatrician yesterday who is willing to use an alternative vaccine schedule.  In other words, deviate from what the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend.  The CDC's schedule would have her receive 5 vaccines at her 2 months appointment.  I have a lot of fears about giving her so many vaccines at one time.  However, the pediatrician definitely believes that the recommended schedule is safe and the way to protect against some really harmful diseases.  If we stay with Dr. Fleming, who I really like, we have to use the prescribed vaccine schedule with no alterations.  Everyone tells me that they vaccinated their kids on the CDC's schedule and it was all fine, but that doesn't guarantee that my baby will be fine. 
I can't decide what would be the best thing to do.  She is so little and perfect and I just don't want to risk anything happening to her.  Then again, we have to make a decision and move forward with it.  I really wish that I never knew there was any way other than the CDC's vaccine schedule and I wouldn't find myself struggling with this decision. 
Anybody have an opinion?


Nick said...

I'm not 100% sold on the connection between vaccination and other conditions.

But I do think its a good idea to spread out the vaccinations over several visits. In case there is a reaction, the immune system will only have to fight off one intruder instead of many.

Nikki said...

I say if you can go with Dr. Cave's recommendation then do it...those diseases you mentioned both to protect against and the side affects ones are no laughing matter. We were all fine witht he CDC recommended schedule but I think our family is lucky....we have no asthma, crohn's or autism..as we also know Rheumatoid arthritis and guillain barre syndrome can be caused by many other reasons and not directly linked to vaccines.

It is a hard decision...but if medical research says there is an alternative I think it is worth looking at.

Sorry -- not much help!

Alexis said...

Hey! I just got around to asking Nathalie what she did for this. She recommends a book on vaccination by someone named Sears. With AZ, she followed the alternative schedule described in this book with a few modifications (for example, the ones that can't be split up)....

Natalie said...

Thanks, Lex. I have looked at Dr. Sears website. We have an appointment with another pediatrician on Thursday who supposedly supports alternative schedules. Hopefully he will be a good fit for us.