To Vaccinate or Not

by AustinMom

In my area, as noted in the article, we have a fairly large opposition to vaccinations for children. I think, as the article notes, that many parents of young children today never had the disease vaccinations target nor even have known anyone who had them which leads them to think the disease is eradicated vs. controlled. Our family knows families who by choice do not vaccinate at all by, vaccinate selectively, and/or vaccinate on a much longer schedule than recommended for healthy children. We also know a family who can only vaccinate on a limited basis due to health reasons. Lastly, I grew up with a friend who cannot build an immunity to chicken pox and would have it almost annually; even as a mature adult still gets it every few years.

My mom, who passed away in her early 90’s, was very pro-vaccination as she and most everyone she knew had these childhood diseases and she saw first hand the symptoms and the effects. I received all the vaccines that were available during my childhood. As there were no vaccines, I had chicken pox (mild case) and mumps (on one side and then on the other), but not measles. My children have had all their shots and some that at the time were recommended by our pediatrician before they became required by my state for attending school. While still not required, my children have had the HPV series.

I fully understand families with health issues that prevent them from vaccinating or that require vaccinating on a modified schedule. I understand how vaccinating their peers helps reduce the likelihood that those who cannot be vaccinated will become ill. My pediatrician, who is clearly pro-vaccination, hasn’t issued any requirements for being vaccinated to remain a patient.

Do you think that families should be able to refuse to have their children vaccinated for any reason other than medical necessity? Would you change pediatricians/clinics if they required all patients to be fully vaccinated, unless prevented by health issues?

On vaccinations, a pointed shift for pediatricians

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131 thoughts on “To Vaccinate or Not

  1. I think parents should be able to refuse. I think pedis should be able to kick patients out who do (contrary to what the AAP advises, I think? Some body that like). I think a state should be able to say vaccines are required for public school enrollment with only a medics waiver being permitted. And I think people are fools if they don’t vaccinate without a known medical issue.

  2. Looks like the AAP just recently changed its stance – ok to kick out patients who are not vaccinated. Our pedi has had that policy for 3-4 years now under the theory that if you don’t trust their judgment on a settled medical issue with a ton of evidence behind it, they don’t think you will trust their judgment on much else. Plus, everyone who comes to the office who is too young for vaccinations, immunocompromised or % who doesn’t get an adequate immune response.

  3. Wow… this is a topic that I can spend a while on. I am someone who has been immune compromised, know people who are fully immune compromised, had a son who has had both an alternate schedule and a routine schedule for vaccination due to weight restrictions, know people who need religious exemptions, and am someone who is very familiar with the research linking vaccines to autism, and the ingredients in vaccines.

    To answer the questions simply – yes, I believe there should be a religious exemption for vaccines in addition to medical necessity. And I’m not sure if I would change pediatricians – mostly because it’s very difficult in my area to find a pediatrician who will accept new patients that aren’t newborns. I get stuck with the public/private school requirements because (1) if you’re a true private school (no federal funding), you can require what you want and (2) if you’re a federally funded school, then the rules are different and I’m not sure what protections should be in place (I haven’t really thought about it a lot, so that’s why).

    I believe in vaccines. I believe that they do their job and do it well. I do know that a small portion of the population have been injured through receiving vaccines, but I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to stop giving them. And I fall firmly in the camp that vaccines DO NOT cause autism spectrum disorders.

  4. I also think parents should be able to refuse, but I think those same parents should then be barred for life from mocking any other group , such as climate change deniers or people not horrified by GMO products as being “anti-science”.

    While I respect parents right to make a choice for their own children, I do resent them sending already debunked anti-vax propaganda out through their social media in attempts to sway other parents to not vaccinate. The rest of us vaccinating our kids are what is keeping their kids healthy.

  5. Yes, AAP has changed their stance. I looked, but couldn’t find if there are any rules regarding physicians that accept Medicaid patients being paid if they adopt this type of policy in their practice. For practices that treat a large number of Medicaid patients that could be a factor.

  6. Just vaccinate. Unless there’s a specific, know medical reason not to. i.e. just because some people *think* there’s a link of vaccinating leading to a separate condition is not a good reason.

    Vaccination should be required for school attendance.
    Vaccination should be required to work in a health care setting.

    IMHO.

  7. My state requires that entering seventh graders show proof of vaccination or sign a waiver. Although my children were all vaccinated, I didn’t have time to deal with the doctor’s office and get the form that the proved the vaccination had taken place, so I signed the waiver. I have another friend in a very liberal city who did the exact same thing. So, I really hope that a lot of people sign the waiver for the same reasons that we did: Even though the kids were vaccinated, it was much easier to say we had a religious issue with vaccination.

    As karma is a b, now I have a child on immunosuppresants, whose chicken pox vaccine did not take. We live in dread of someone coming to school with chicken pox.

  8. Other than Christian Scientists, what religion says that vaccines aren’t ok?

    The big problem I have with allowing a religious waiver is that you cannot look behind the claim as to whether it is a real objection or not, so everyone who doesn’t believe in vaccines uses it as an exemption even though in many cases the religious views so not affect the decision.

  9. Agree with Fred.

    Also, anyone who doesn’t vaccinate based on something they read on the internet is stupid and not someone I would be friends with. IMHO. :)

  10. I grew up in a developing country so I have had the measles, chicken pox and typhoid. My stint with typhoid kept me in bed for a month. Luckily I had summer vacation at the time.
    My kids are vaccinated per schedule.
    I have seen first hand the impacts of these diseases including very severe ones like polio. People of my parents generation were impacted by polio. I got the MMR vaccine prior to having kids. Hadn’t got that before.
    My nephew and niece have allergies so can’t get certain vaccines from what I understand.
    The spekticism around vaccines started after our kids were already vaccinated. And my kids have had more vaccines due to travel to the home country. DH travelled to the home country, came back with malaria. Lesson learned.

  11. One thing that gets lost in this debate is that vaccinating kids is hard. You hold them down, the screen, and they are often sick afterwards.

    I am absolutely huge believer in vaccination, but I think we discount the visceral reaction that many parents had to vaccinating their children. “You are shooting them full of toxins.” Which is literally true.

    In general, refusing to vaccinate does not place one in a protected class. So doctors may legally discriminate as much as they want regarding that. The AAP may have recommendations, but they have no power of enforcing them.

  12. I must be lack a heart because I have never felt bad vaccinating my kids. Even the little one who was 5 lbs at 2 months for the first set of vaccinations. Buck up! This is for your own good!

  13. Parents may have a right to deny their children protection but they do not have the right to comprise the rest of society. No vaccinations – move to an island.

    As a child born in 1950 I am appalled at the re-emergence of diseases that have been almost extinct in the US. I attribute this to children not being vaccinated, unfettered people entering the US without being checked for diseases and knowing if they have been vaccinated, We used to have a great national health department who now worry about sugared drinks but not the amount of tuberculosis, measles, mumps and other “childhood” diseases spreading in this country. We need to get back to fundamentals in this country,

  14. Hax or Ask Amy had a column about this recently (someone who I think was marrying into an anti-vax family). Her response was measured; my comment would have been more along the lines of “do you realize you’re marrying a total twit?” Which probably explains why they don’t pay me to write advice columns.

    Totally pro-vax here (surprise), under the theory that your right to swing your fist ends where it hits my nose. You want to put your own kids at risk, that’s your call; you want to put other people’s kids at risk (and the elderly, and the sick, and and and) on the assumption that you can afford to be a free rider because everyone else is immunized, nope, sorry.

  15. I knew someone with polio, and it is not pretty. My experience with this person made me appreciate the fact that these vaccines exist. I can try to understand why people are worried about potential side effects from vaccines, but some vaccines obviously do work.

    I don’t think it should be mandatory to get vaccines such as flu or the HPV vaccine. I do think it should be mandatory for public school enrollment for the other childhood stuff…measles, whooping cough, polio, chicken pox.

    Our friends that live in Boulder use a religious exemption, and selected a private school so they wouldn’t have to vaccinate. When they relocated from NY, they had to choose between Boulder and the bay area for one of their jobs. They would not select CA because of the mandatory vaccination issue. I wish all states would have laws that are as strict as CA. They no longer allow religious exemptions as a reason for no vaccinations. This strict law was partially a response to what happened in Disneyland, and other public places.

  16. I wish all states would have laws that are as strict as CA.

    I don’t think they are all that strict. All I had to do was say I didn’t want to vaccinate my kid.

  17. Kate – I believe certain orthodox Jews as well. Some vaccines, I think, have stabilizers which are derived for pork (non-kosher most likely). My info may be out of date, so take it with a grain of salt.

  18. I remember being a little teary when my oldest got vaccinated at 2 months, but with the 2nd and 3rd I was in the suck it up camp.:)

    I think parents should be able to not vaccinate if they should so choose, but I also don’t think those kids should be allowed to attend public school and pediatricians can kick them out if they want. I’m all for personal choice except when you are impacting the health of others (like the smokers who used to be allowed to smoke everywhere). The internet is a great source of knowledge but it really does feed the crazies in a lot of ways (and I can be very crunchy about health vis a vis food but I can’t understand the anti-vax people)

  19. As the number of diseases against one can be protected increases (Baby WCE got a rotavirus vaccine, I think), I become less sure of the cost/risk/benefit of vaccinating against relatively low risk diseases for which the vaccine has an unknown duration of immunity. Vaccines are expensive to manufacture and time-consuming to obtain, so at some point, the cost-risk-benefit analysis turns negative. I also care a lot about whether a disease is transmitted by casual contact or by bodily fluids for the “required for all decision”. On a population basis, I understand why Hepatitis B is recommended. I think my personal risk of Hepatitis B is minimal and am not vaccinated.

    Another factor is the cost of vaccines for uninsured, ineligible for Medicaid families. A few years ago, a friend told me that they were paying $50/month to their doctor’s office toward the ~$2000 cost of getting their kids a round of vaccines and at that rate vs. the rate of required vaccines, they’d fall “further in the whole” with the doctor’s office. This direct cost isn’t visible under ACA and insurance is required to cover vaccines now, but the overall cost is at least as high as it was.

    If vaccines are going to be a requirement for school attendance, I think they should be publicly funded (free at point of service) for everyone, probably even adults at the department of public health.

  20. I remember having a conversation with our pediatrician about which polio vaccine to give our oldest. As I recall, she could use the live vaccine, which was administered orally or the dead virus vaccine which came as a shot. With the live vaccine, there was a chance of actually getting polio, with the shot, no chance. We talked and talked to the pediatrician trying to figure out why it would be a plausible option to take the live virus vaccine, because it seemed an unneccessary risk. She finally told us it was one less shot that our baby had to have. Heartless parents that we are, it took two seconds to weigh the remote possibility of actually getting polio with the surety of comforting a screaming baby after a shot. We picked the screaming baby option.

  21. “I think parents should be able to not vaccinate if they should so choose, but I also don’t think those kids should be allowed to attend public school and pediatricians can kick them out if they want.”

    The problem with that is the Disneyland scenario. You can’t protect the public through voluntary private action — schools and doctors can require proof of vaccination, but it is impractical for every theme park, grocery store, mall, etc. to do the same.

  22. “If vaccines are going to be a requirement for school attendance, I think they should be publicly funded (free at point of service) for everyone, probably even adults at the department of public health.”

    ITA.

  23. I’m all for vaccines, and enforcing vaccines for public schools, etc. I’m just reluctant to jump in with the angry mob and start yelling “The Science is Settled!!!, #Doctors!” and so on and so forth. I think we tend to do that with a lot of things, sometimes prematurely.

  24. “If vaccines are going to be a requirement for school attendance, I think they should be publicly funded (free at point of service) for everyone, probably even adults at the department of public health.”

    I agree as well.

  25. In our area, there is a free drive through flu vaccine clinic. It is awesome, one year, I got all three kids and myself vaccinated in less than ten minutes. Unfortunately, it is now scheduled during school hours :(. Sometimes the powers that be just make things difficult.

  26. LfB – despite me thinking people are total fools for not vaccinating (without med reason), I don’t think that the govt be forcing medical procedures and similar things on people. Even for the public good. Vaccines do have some risks and I just don’t think it is appropriate for the government to force it. But totally cool with the stick approach where you don’t get to go to public school without them.

  27. I must be lack a heart because I have never felt bad vaccinating my kids. Even the little one who was 5 lbs at 2 months for the first set of vaccinations. Buck up! This is for your own good!

    Ditto.

    In Colorado, parents can enroll kids in school and just check a box that they are choosing not to vaccinate. It makes it way too easy to not vax, and parents who would be willing to vax if they had to don’t bother.

  28. I don’t think that the govt be forcing medical procedures and similar things on people. Even for the public good.

    In most places, if you have TB the government can and often does come to your house every day to watch you take your pills. Do you think that’s O.K? Or, should people be free to wander around crowded places infecting thousands?

  29. For an active infection, sure. For preventative stuff that has some risks and isn’t 100% effective? Probably not ok. I can be convinced though. I personally love vaccines and collect them all.

  30. I remember going with my mother to get my brother vaccinated at a government hospital in the home country. Vaccines are free but some like the polio vaccine were only administered in government hospitals. My mother was horrified at the conditions at the government hospital. Long lines, screaming babies and not 100% sanitary conditions. She said my brother would catch some deadly disease while waiting for his vaccine !

  31. I remember lining up in some parking lot when I was about 5 or 6 with my mom and sister to get my sugar cube full of the oral polio vaccine. Seemed like a good process.

  32. WCE – your example completely adds me to the camp of “free vaccines for all” (said in my best Oprah voice). No family should go into that amount of debt to keep their families healthy.

    Now that the topic of specific vaccines has been mentioned – this is where a lot of my thoughts break down. I am not a fan of the flu vaccine, and I’m not entirely sure about HPV. I get the science behind both, but on personal levels, those vaccines tend to ruffle me.

    Flu – I’ve had the flu once in my entire life. Once. I’ve only started getting the flu vaccine because of pregnancy and preemie DS. Now, I understand the flu hospitalizes and kills many people per year, which is why I got the vaccine to protect others around me.

    HPV – this one gets towards my religious beliefs. It’s totally a knee-jerk response and my thoughts will alter as DS grows up.

    Taking my thoughts to a broader level, I can see why people get all up in arms about vaccines, especially ones that are newer or are attached to religious hot-button topics. And I’m not sure a requirement for the full suite of vaccines is really smart… sadly I haven’t thought hard about this so my thoughts go no further.

  33. I may be old fashioned but I also didn’t take my non-vaccinated babies on airplanes, to theme parks and to the grocery store. The only place I took them at least for the first 30 days were on walks and to the pediatrician’s office.

    I agree with WCE on the benefit analysis of certain vaccines. I never get a flu vaccine because the likelihood of getting the flu is small and the vaccine isn’t 100%, but I do get my kids’ the flu vaccine because kids are more likely to have complications.

  34. polio and small pox – two vaccines I do not have, but my parents do.
    chicken pox – my parents and I don’t have it but my son will (or does).

    nothing critical, but just an interesting timeline…

  35. “I don’t think that the govt be forcing medical procedures and similar things on people.”

    Well, per this and Rhode’s comment, I think the question is really the scope — i.e., if we are going to force people to be vaccinated, that power needs to be used judiciously to focus on Big Bad things with potentially catastrophic consequences. E.g,, I believe in the past we have required wholesale vaccination for polio and smallpox and TB testing, because those are all highly-contagious and have deadly consequences. HPV, OTOH, is largely preventable, not so highly-contagious (i.e., it spreads one person at a time vs. “cough and the entire subway is infected”), and has a lower risk of long-term consequences (cancer in 30 years vs. current epidemic). So while I am having my kids vaccinated for HPV, I would not advocate that the government force everyone to do so.

    So for me, it’s not an “if,” it’s a “what,” and the scope of that “what” should depend on how contagious the disease is, how horrible the consequences are, how effective the vaccines are, and what the likely side effects are. E.g., smallpox may no longer make the cut, because it is a very low-risk disease in the modern world, and IIRC the vaccine has a small chance of causing the disease, so the overall risk may be higher if you vaccinate than if you don’t.

    It seems to me that if you would jump in and force everyone to be vaccinated on an emergency basis in the event of an outbreak, and the cost/risk of an outbreak occurring outweighs the cost/risks of vaccination, it only makes sense to vaccinate now to try to prevent that outbreak from happening in the first place.

  36. I agree the timeline is interesting, Rhode. I had chicken pox, mumps, measles. My mom’s family had to leave their city and move to their cottage for a semester or so because of polio. My college swim coach had polio as a kid. All of these diseases seemed so much a part of my childhood.

    But I took DS to the doc once because he seemed to have chicken pox (despite having had the vax) and the PA, who didn’t seem all that much younger than me, gazed at DS’s one pox mark w/ wonder and said, “I’ve never seen chicken pox before.”

  37. One of my kids is allergic to the flu vaccine, and I wish I could convince adults like Atlanta to get it. It’s true that your personal likelihood of getting the flu is low, and you have the benefit of being able to protect your own kids, but we depend on the herd protection for our child.

  38. “A single, unvaccinated child with measles led to the infection of 131 people, many of whom also were unvaccinated. One infected adult who visited several hospitals ended up exposing 98 infants, 14 pregnant women and 237 hospital employees, according to the California Department of Public Health.”

    Wow… those numbers are pretty staggering, considering the other 130 people probably also exposed dozens of people in going about their lives until they knew to be quarantined.

    What are people’s thoughts about delayed or alternate schedules?
    DS needed an alternate schedule in the beginning because he was too small to receive the first 2 rounds of vaccines. Personally, he reacted better to the 2 visits 2 weeks apart than he did when he was big enough to take the full brunt later on.

    If the delay or alternate schedule still falls in the guidelines for optimal immunity, is it really a bad thing? Though, more shots means more non-active ingredients, so there is that…

  39. I was vaccinated for small pox about four times as child (never took – no reaction, no scab, no scar) and again at age 16 before an anticipated move overseas. At age 16, no reaction was evident at the assessment date. Given my prior experience, they did not re-vaccinate me a second time at age 16.

    My DD#2 had breathing issues as an infant/toddler. It was recommended for a few years that she and everyone in the household get the flu vaccine, and then just she receive it. We always did it those years. I am less likely now though to do so as my small data set shows no significant difference in the number of people who do and don’t get the flu if they received the current year vaccine or not.

  40. TB treatment has risks too – and there are lots of people walking around, infected and without symptoms. Should they be required to receive treatment? They could activate at any time and start infecting people before they initiate treatment.

    Also, regarding HPV – think about “penectomy” – it’s like a appendectomy only with a different part of the body. Penile cancer is rare, but almost always connected to HPV infection. I’ve scrubbed in on a few such surgeries (as a resident) and it’s a pretty devastating procedure. I think if we made the HPV propaganda a bit more male-centric, we would find parents more willing to vaccinate their sons.

  41. I had to feed DS, the powered malaria medication (very bitter tasting, quinine or derivative perhaps) in apple sauce. He was not pleased.
    Our family learned from DH’s malaria incident that you don’t retain immunity so you have to vaccinate/take medication if you have moved away to another country.

  42. LfB – agree. No one is vacvinated for small pox any more, but I am really surprised that Rhode wasn’t for polio. I got the OPV (live one but more effective) and my kids got the IPV (dead but safer) one.

    Rhode – I am also curious about what your docs told you guys about your son/weight for vaccinations. With the exception of Hep B at birth which required a weight of 5 lbs, my preemie who weighed 2 lbs at birth was on the regular schedule. The neos were insistent on it and that the data indicated that it was safe and effective. They fought with a few parents in the NICU about it. I wonder why there is not a consensus.

  43. Wow, Ada – that’s a sobering post. I take my vax advice from my exH and his wife. She said to have my DS get the HPV vax, so I obeyed. DS didn’t complain at the time. If he had, and if I’d known about it, I’d have trotted out “penectomy.” That would’ve kept him quiet!

  44. My kids have all had the HPV regimen. It wasn’t that big a deal. It did not cause them to have sex. (yeah, I know. How do I know? But I really believe that.) They’re going to have sex at some point so what’s the big deal about getting them vaxed for that?

  45. If a mother has not had polio vaccine, she can get polio from her live vaccine inoculated child’s dirty diapers. So those babies should have the shot not the squirt. Unless you are an immigrant it is unlikely that the doctor would even ask, and in a clinic they would not. Smallpox is not given anymore, AFAIK.

    I have no problem with refusing public school admission to anyone without proper vaccination, unless it is a medical issue. Colleges now require revaccination of adolescents for almost everything, so the recordkeeping issue is not really there. Homeschooling, religious and crunchy private schools, and in all likelihood minimally regulated voucher funded schools in the future provide plenty of ways for non vax children to be educated. If I were a parent today in Colorado, I would choose a private school that required vaccinations if I could find one. They make versions of all vaccines that are kosher or vegan, just as they have alternate procedures for surgeries on Jehovah’s witnesses, who don’t accept blood transfusions. There should be a universal basic health system that provides this free of charge via the schools.

  46. I think most people are poor reporters of whether they have had influenza this season or not. I can examine a patient and I’m correct (based on DNA testing) about 80% of the time. In terms of patient complaints of “I have the flu”, I think they are right about 10% of the time. So, saying that the vaccination doesn’t seem to make a difference doesn’t constitute valid criticism in my opinion. Most people who I see who have the flu come to acute attention because they think something is terribly wrong with them – about half come in because they think they have meningitis. Most adults get influenza a few time in their lives – once a decade or less. So, real flu is unlike anything they have experienced in recent memory.

    Having said that, the flu vaccine is often not well targeted, and is not highly effective. There is not great evidence that vaccinating kids makes a huge difference (though vaccinated health care workers does.). I’m on the fence every year about vaccinating my kids, and it usually comes down to convenience. I vaccinate myself because it is a job requirement.

    All vaccines (oral polio and flu, and everything else) have a risk of permanent or lethal neurological side effects. I don’t like that I have to sign a form every time I get a flu vaccine that says I’ve never had Guillan-Barre (the most common vaccine related nerve injury) – it reminds me of the possibility. The oral polio vaccine is a good choice for a couple of reasons – it can be contagious and spread immunity through the community (it comes out through the stool, and we’d never have any polio/rotavirus/norovirus if people weren’t always ingesting others’ stool). Also, it probably provides better immunity than the injected version as polio enters the body through the gut. For me, I’m happy with the injected version as I consider my family’s risk as very small.

  47. “So, real flu is unlike anything they have experienced in recent memory.”

    This is certainly my experience. When I have had flu, I knew it, it was an order-of-magnitude difference. My rule since then is if I have to ask whether I have flu, it’s just a cold.

  48. “So, real flu is unlike anything they have experienced in recent memory.”

    I had the flu once, which led to pneumonia. DH had the flu once, which led to a week on the couch. Everyone is the house gets flu vaccinations now.

  49. The flu vaccine was given for free in my workplaces, for the obvious reason to reduce absenteeism due to winter illness. Ada is right about inaccurate self reporting – there is a reason that the sports teams describe a player’s absence as due to “flu-like symptoms” rather than to the flu, since they rarely have actual influenza. I now get a cold every time I babysit for the grandkids 3, 5, 7. But it is a cold, not the flu. I am perfectly content to take my yearly free flu shot. I also had the shingles shot at 60, and have started the sequence of pneumonia shots at 65. I needed all of the travel vaccines for work.

  50. DD#1 completed HPV series, DD#2 has had 2 of 3 and 3 is scheduled. We had two set of shots delayed (1) because DD started running a fever the day of the visit – delayed shots two weeks and (2) about a week before the well-check DD came down with something that required antibiotics – shots delayed about 3 weeks, so that she was through with the antibiotics first.

  51. “have started the sequence of pneumonia shots at 65”

    Is that the common recommendation?

  52. Kate – my NICU gave the Hep B vax before we left the hospital and my son left weighing 4lbs 12 oz (1 month old). When it came time for the ped visits and the vaccines, he just didn’t have the weight or muscle mass to take the first 2 rounds. Each round was 2 shots, IIRC. I didn’t question it, because I knew we’d be back in a week to get the second shot. My son was IUGR, had very skinny limbs and was very tiny – he was ~8 lbs at 6 months old. After those first two rounds, he was completely on a normal schedule. By that time, he started moving more and developed more muscle (even now, he’s a skinny minny, but has very defined muscles).

    I think it may have been the doc being over cautious because she wanted to make sure the needle went into the muscle.

  53. I had the real flu (two?) years ago, iirc. The part that was unlike anything else was the chills; they were intermittent, but when they came on, I couldn’t stop shivering, even under three or four blankets. But everything else, meh. I didn’t go to the urgent care clinic complaining of the flu, but they tested me for it, and then she came back holding, through an only partially opened door to the exam room, a mask for me to don.

    I’ve had a bad cold since Sunday night, when I became exhausted while we were out to dinner with friends. I stayed home Monday, worked yesterday, for some reason was only able to sleep three hours last night, and continued to work today.

    DW, God love her, always errs to the extreme diagnosis and immediately told me that I probably have the flu. I doubt it. Although I do get chilled frequently, they’re not as extreme. But it’s a vicious cold, if that’s all it is.

  54. We all get flu shots every year – I don’t need to deal with the flu in addition to all the colds the kids bring home!

    My dad had polio as a kid – probably just before the vaccine was widely available – but luckily had a complete recovery.

  55. One of the seniors in my family has taken shingles and pneumonia. The other tends to blow off getting the “not so serious vaccines. That senior actually got shingles. But is not taking the pneumonia vaccine.

  56. Rhode – so weird! The complete opposite of our experience. The only one they wouldn’t do on schedule was Hep B and all others were on schedule and a single shot. He weighed a little less than 5 lbs at 2 months, so way under what a baby typically weighs for the 2 month shots. And they were serious about them!

  57. I thought the rules for CA changed in July 2016 and that it is tougher to be exempt? I know your kids are older, so I assume that this wouldn’t apply?

  58. From CDC –

    Vaccines are available that can help prevent pneumococcal disease, which is any type of infection caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. There are two kinds of pneumococcal vaccines available in the United States:

    Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
    Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine

    Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended for all babies and children younger than 2 years old, all adults 65 years or older, and people 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is recommended for all adults 65 years or older, people 2 through 64 years old who are at increased risk for disease due to certain medical conditions, and adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes.

    Talk with your or your child’s healthcare professional if you have questions about pneumococcal vaccines.

    ——–

    They are free under medicare. You get them along with your yearly “free” physical. (My intake physical and all blood testing were free, but they added/billed an extra slot for discussion of medical issues so I had to pay the 20 copay under my medicare advantage plan). I just got my bill for the medicare premiums for next year – I managed to squeeze our AGI under the threshhold to pay 134 a month for each of us.

  59. It’s not right for parents to withhold medical treatment, including preventative care like vaccines, from their kids. It also isn’t right to endanger the community around you. Everyone who disagrees with me is wrong; what should the penalty be?

    Off-topic: what is this College Green Light tab I have open on my browser? Is there someone here who’s familiar with/recommended it?

  60. Older DS has asthma, so we all get the flu shot. I’m pretty sure I had the flu in college. It was awful. People die from the flu. We knew of a healthy high-school boy who died a few years ago from it.

    DS was in the hospital for a week when he was 2 with RSV. I don’t want to have to go through anything like that again. A relative of mine died at 3 months from RSV. I’m paranoid about flu/RSV due to my son and relative’s experience.

    I also am a mean mom and haven’t been bothered by the fact that the kids cry when they get shots. Suck it up. Here’s your sticker. Better than being dead.

  61. tcmama, my son also has asthma and had mild RSV as an infant. What’s the connection to flu?

    It bothered me that mine didn’t cry for daily heel pricks (to check for bilirubin) as a newborn. He protested allergy shots once, but has gotten them without incident ever since.

  62. “tcmama, my son also has asthma and had mild RSV as an infant. What’s the connection to flu?”

    I think the issue is that kids with asthma are more likely to have a bad outcome from either RSV or flu.

  63. I used to get flu shots for the kids and skip it myself. Then I got the flu, which lasted 8-10 days. It took almost a month to get my strength back. Now I get the flu shot regularly.

    We are believers in vaccines. DS had an adverse effect with the HPV vaccine, but other than that, my kids are fully vaccinated.

  64. We used to not get flu shots but with a household with seniors we do. We had a bad experience where all the house except me was down with “flu like symptoms”. At that point everyone got terrified of actually getting the flu.
    Living with seniors has made me see illness in a different light. What may be a light cold in a younger person may get magnified in an older person.

  65. “What may be a light cold in a younger person may get magnified in an older person.”

    I’m feeling it as I age. I now make a little noise when getting into the car. Like a cross between a sigh and a grunt. Old age, here I come.

  66. “I am absolutely huge believer in vaccination, but I think we discount the visceral reaction that many parents had to vaccinating their children. “You are shooting them full of toxins.” Which is literally true.”

    But it has been ever thus, so long as we have had vaccines. I doubt that any of our parents gave this a thought when they brought us in for our shots. Is this anti-vaccine reaction the result of commendable skepticism regarding received medical wisdom, or another example of the special snowflake syndrome? My kids are special and I don’t want them to get vaccinated; but I will rely on the herd effect produced by the vaccination of all of those nonspecial children whose parents aren’t reading all of the scare literature?

  67. Scarlett – it is genuine fear that the kids will end up autistic. My sibling who moved to the U.K. didn’t give his kids the chicken pox vaccine. He was greatly influenced by that debunked article, even though he knew that the article was proved false.
    Both his kids got chicken pox. They were in daycare with other kids, so I don’t know how many were impacted. It was miserable dealing with two sick kids. I don’t know what other vaccines they haven’t had. My mother was livid having been of a generation where people died from infectious diseases.

  68. Louise, I knew that was an issue before the debunking, but didn’t realize that the effects had persisted.

  69. I think it is the result of having too much information and not a lot of the expertise to evaluate things. Reading an article on Facebook about dangerous toxins in vaccines is given equal (or more, depending on whether you believe in government conspiracies) weight to CDC recommendations. Just more of the fake news stuff. I think the constant news cycle/unlimited content is really damaging to society.

  70. It still persists. I know several people that believe that the vaccines will cause serious side effects. For parents of an autistic child that seemed fine during their first 6 – 12 months of life, it can be comforting to be able to just blame something even if a part of you knows that it is not really true.

  71. BTW, I found out the hard way (extra trip to ped) that the protocol for the number and timing of doses changed for the HPV vaccine. The CDC announced this in October. The new protocol is only 2 shots instead of 3 if your child receives the first dose before the age of 14.

    I read the attached, but this is why some people don’t like vaccines and especially new vaccines such as HPV. Too many unknowns with new vaccines. We waited a year, and researched as much as possible before making a decision as to whether to start the first dose.

    https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p1020-hpv-shots.html

  72. CodC,

    I’m feeling it as I age. I now make a little noise when getting into the car. Like a cross between a sigh and a grunt. Old age, here I come.

    Can we have a post – “When did you first notice you were getting old?”

  73. Can we have a post – “When did you first notice you were getting old?”

    Oh, that will be uplifting

    sarcasm font off

  74. My dad also had polio. He was lucky to fully recover, but still talks about being in the hospital for a month, in the Children’s ward, with other polio kids in worse shape than he. Very traumatizing. I have another relative who, as a child, got chicken pox and almost died from it. He still suffers from the devastation it caused his body. People forget or don’t realize how bad these diseases are.

  75. “I’m feeling it as I age. I now make a little noise when getting into the car. Like a cross between a sigh and a grunt”

    Stop that right now. :) That’s an old person mannerism that someone near and dear to me has taken on, and it’s not attractive at all. Next thing we’ll have all sorts of medicine bottles on the counters, plastic covers on the sofa, and our house will start to smell funny. :)

  76. I remember in elementary school, one girl had chicken pox and she went to a high school basketball game. The next day, our teacher was just came unglued. He went through the list of bad outcomes that could happen if she had infected someone who was pregnant, in addition to how inconsiderate she was.

    Another of my elementary school classmate’s parent walked with a limp from a childhood bought with polio.

    It is remarkable that healthcare outcomes have increased so drastically, that young parents these days have little concept of how bad infectious diseases can be.

  77. “If vaccines are going to be a requirement for school attendance, I think they should be publicly funded (free at point of service) for everyone, probably even adults at the department of public health.”

    I completely agree. I thought that under the ACA vaccinations were now required to be fully covered under insurance plans as preventative care? I know that I do not pay a copay for the vaccinations, but I never did with good insurance anyway. I do enjoy paying a zero copay for birth control.

    I don’t have any problem with people altering the schedule of vaccinations under advice from a pediatrician. What I DO have a problem with is the Granola Moms (some crossover with Totebag Moms) who read a bunch of BS on the internet and design their own “schedule” based on some blogger’s recommendation and demand that their pediatrician follow it. (often getting very indignant if their ped pushes back) I have seen this IRL more times that I would like.

    I was very happy when our school instituted a vax-required policy (medical exceptions only). It can be a bit granola, so I was pleasantly surprised.

    I agree that this is a “your fist hits my face” issue where some privacy/personal freedom should be given up for the good of society. I also agree that there are probably some that are more critical than others and some that could be more optional.

    I do worry about requiring vaccinations for public school just in the sense that public schools are and should be required to educate all takers. This is one of the problems that I have with vouchers & charter schools – they have the ability to kick kids out/control their student populations in a way that the public school system does not and should not in order to educate all citizens, not just the best ones. This is obviously more of a poor school problem than a Totebag school problem. And I think that making it free and easy to get the most critical vaccinations helps with this issue as well.

    I used to get a flu shot sporadically, when it was convenient. e.g., when they came to the office & gave them for free. Since being pregnant, and also seeing people I know personally deal with the side effects of a true flu infection, I have made it a point to get a flu shot each year for all family members. I had no idea that a person could actually die from the flu (or maybe more accurately – complications related to the flu) until it happened to someone that I knew .

  78. Thanks all – I’ve been wondering about how “bad” chicken pox can be… I got them as a kid, and DS will get (already got?) the Varicella vaccine. It’s just that in my circle, no one got a bad case of chicken pox – we were uncomfy and itchy for ~2 weeks and then fine.

    I do agree that the fake news or not well researched news, vague headlines, sound bytes, 24 hours new cycle just adds to the fear of vaccines. Add in a healthy dose of conspiracy theory (they are really tracking devices!) and poof! You have a bunch of parents wigging out.

  79. “It is remarkable that healthcare outcomes have increased so drastically, that young parents these days have little concept of how bad infectious diseases can be.”

    This is exactly it. And the same movement that has inspired the healing your health problems with real food (which I believe does help), has on the fringes, inspired the anti-vaccination stuff (like everything has to be all natural).

  80. So I’ve never had the flu which may be one of the reasons I’m a bit blasé about it. DH has a “flu-like virus” last year that had him out of work for a whole week. He gets the vaccine every year because they offer them at work and I don’t think he’s ever had the real flu. I did get the flu vaccine when pregnant (I think maybe when the swine flu was going around) and when I had a baby 6 months or younger who was not vaccinated.

    When I had DS, mumps was going around so they vaccinated me in the hospital. Then 15 months later when I was pregnant with my youngest they insisted on vaccinating me again even though I told the nurse that I had just had the vaccination the year before.

  81. I do worry about requiring vaccinations for public school just in the sense that public schools are and should be required to educate all takers.

    It is a conundrum, which danger do you require people (kids are people) to undertake? The risk of a vaccine, which can be dangerous to some kids (like mine), or the risk of being exposed to infectious diseases, which is also dangerous (especially so to kids like mine).

  82. Rhode – as I understand it (and Ada can correct me if I’m wrong) a main issue w/ chicken pox is that they’re a prerequisite to shingles, which can be really painful, among other things. So, even if I were of the notion that chicken pox might not be so bad, I’d want to prevent even a mild case of it in order to spare a kid from a later case of shingles.

  83. As I understand from my elementary school teacher, chicken pox can result in blindness, mental retardation and other issues in the baby if a women catches while pregnant. From my DH, chicken pox as a teenagers is really painful and debilitating.

  84. It is remarkable that healthcare outcomes have increased so drastically, that young parents these days have little concept of how bad infectious diseases can be.

    This is the biggest cause of the problem, IMO. People who have no first-hand experience with this diseases don’t understand how serious they can be.

  85. Also, I like Rhett’s aging idea for a topic, and I’ll be really interested in hearing what you all have to say about it. This issue has taken up what feels like 95% of my waking mental energy for the past few months. I feel like I need a vacation from the stress of this one topic more than I do from work this year. Which, now that I think of it, maybe means I like Rhett’s idea but should stay away from the discussion that day!

  86. With HPV, I think about natural selection and how the vaccine only targets the most common HPV strains, which means that currently-uncommon HPV strains are likely to become more common in the population as well as possibly resistant to the particular immune system targeting method that is currently effective against the vaccine-targeted strains.

    AKAIK, it’s almost impossible to vaccinate large numbers of people in the event of an outbreak because vaccine manufacturing capacity is limited and vaccines have a limited shelf life. I don’t know what sort of research there is into increasing vaccine shelf life, but then you get into concerns about chemical preservatives in the vaccines.

    There are no solutions, only trade-offs.

  87. “It is a conundrum, which danger do you require people (kids are people) to undertake? The risk of a vaccine, which can be dangerous to some kids (like mine), or the risk of being exposed to infectious diseases, which is also dangerous (especially so to kids like mine).”

    Right – good question. This is why it is tricker than it seems. I am strongly pro-vaccination, but there are definitely some questions around the edges that give me pause. Which vaccinations, what are the consequences for non-compliance? I am definitely for paying for/supporting more carrots – free vaccinations, easy access, education, etc. But I’m not sure what the right stick is to apply or when/if non-medical exceptions should be granted. I think just checking a box that you don’t want to vaccinate is too easy, but I’m not sure not allowing kids to enroll in public school is quite right either. I’m open to different viewpoints.

  88. Our family is one of those very small subgroups that has a reaction to vaccines. I developed guillain barre after getting a flu shot shortly after DS #1 was born. DS# 2 and DS#3 have each had febrile seizures after getting MMR vaccines. Each of these are extremely low in likelihood in the general population. There is no doubt that there is something about the genetics in our family which causes an immune response to vaccinations. There is so little known about the interaction between genes and vaccinations that it makes me wonder whether there is an autism vaccination linkage in a very small number of cases.

  89. My parents report that lots of people in the home country are getting dengue fever. Hadn’t heard of that when I was a child. So, like West Nile virus different viruses are becoming common.

  90. “Too many unknowns with new vaccines. We waited a year, and researched as much as possible before making a decision as to whether to start the first dose.”

    I had the exact opposite response and in a very rare move for me, decided not to educate myself further than reading the papers they hand you when your kid gets the shots. My sister brought chicken pox home from kindergarten when I was two, so I don’t remember having them, even though I know I did. Having a vaccine for it seemed extreme to me and I intended to learn more before making an informed decision about it, but then one of those papers said that he had just gotten it. I’ve heard a little bit about the possible effects of the disease since then, and think I probably would have had him get it anyway, if I had done the research.

    Houston, hearing of your little car noise (and CoC’s reaction) I am reminded of the time I was on the job market, five months pregnant, and I went to give a guest lecture in a very carefully selected outfit. When my host came to pick me up, he was driving a very low-slung convertible. I’m still amazed that he didn’t notice the way I got out of that car, lol! (One of their colleagues was a woman in her fifties. She saw that I was con nino and told the rest, they told me later. Other than her, no one in the dept noticed!

    Polio used to be a lot more common, and affected people in varying degrees. I did not know this until a month ago when my mother mentioned in passing that she had been so bored when she had it.

    My kid’s school vaccinated kids for flu this year. Required a signature, but no money.

  91. “plastic covers on the sofa”

    A few years ago, we finally removed the plastic covers from the chairs of our dining room set.

  92. “My parents report that lots of people in the home country are getting dengue fever. ”

    That’s been a problem here too.

  93. I’ve heard radio ads about dengue fever, advising vaccination I think. Maybe it was just a PSA. Apparently it’s a problem around here,also.

  94. “If vaccines are going to be a requirement for school attendance, I think they should be publicly funded (free at point of service) for everyone, probably even adults at the department of public health.”

    I remember everyone in my school being marched to the cafeteria and getting shots, on more than one occasion.

    BTW, who else has a circular scar on their upper arm from the smallpox vaccination? As kids, we used to compare scars.

  95. “Would you change pediatricians/clinics if they required all patients to be fully vaccinated, unless prevented by health issues?”

    I’d be more likely to change pediatrician/clinic if they didn’t require all patients to be fully vaccinated.

  96. BTW, who else has a circular scar on their upper arm from the smallpox vaccination?

    That was how I remembered which was my left side as a little kid.

  97. I probably wouldn’t change offices over it, but it would tick me off if pediatricians started requiring HPV vaccines. HPV is a new vaccine with poorly understood risks and duration, it’s expensive, it prevents a disease that isn’t readily communicable, and the target disease strain population changes over time.

    Frankly, any office that forced people to receive an expensive vaccine for a “noncommunicable” disease would annoy me.

  98. “I’ve been wondering about how “bad” chicken pox can be… I got them as a kid, and DS will get (already got?) the Varicella vaccine. It’s just that in my circle, no one got a bad case of chicken pox – we were uncomfy and itchy for ~2 weeks and then fine.”

    A cousin who’s a year younger than I had a bad case. She was hospitalized for a while, and there were concerns of whether she would survive. She survived, but had some really nasty scars as a result.

  99. SM, I’m guessing you never got the smallpox vaccination.

    They’d use a needle or something like that to scratch up an area about the size of a dime, and apply the vaccine to that. After a while it would form a scab, then when the scab fell off you’d have a scar.

  100. HPV is a new vaccine with poorly understood risks

    Why do you say the risks are poorly understood?

  101. “Vaccines do have some risks and I just don’t think it is appropriate for the government to force it.”

    OTOH, the diseases the vaccines try to prevent also have risks.

    Having the government mandate certain vaccines for highly communicable diseases, e.g., measles, is completely compatible with my libertarian leaning politics.

  102. WCE – I believe you’re wrong, but I can’t look it up right now. The hpv vaccine targets the strains most likely to cause cancer, not the most common ones.

  103. ” they have alternate procedures for surgeries on Jehovah’s witnesses, who don’t accept blood transfusions”

    Epogen must be a great thing for them.

    I’m wondering if not accepting transfusions means they won’t even accept transfusions of their own blood, banked in advance.

  104. “My kids have all had the HPV regimen. It wasn’t that big a deal. It did not cause them to have sex.”

    Keep in mind that the decision to have sex is not always your kid’s to make.

  105. We got the flu this Spring – confirmed via testing. I brought it home from the two bleeps who were seated in front of me on the airplane. They looked horrible and I wish more flights would keep ill people off them. It is the worst I’ve ever felt an illness.

    My DH convinced my son’s that shots were nothing and there was no reason to get upset. My oldest does much better with this whereas my youngest is a bit apprehensive when getting them. When my oldest was 5 I had the option to give him one extra shot that visit and then other then the flu vaccine, he wouldn’t need any other scheduled vaccines until he was 11. I said sure go ahead and the doc sat him down and solemnly told him that he was getting 5 shots but they were necessary. He looked her in the eye and said “I’m not gonna cry about it. I’m not a baby”. Two nurses came in to administer them – 3 in one arm and 2 in the other. His only response was to say calmly “well that hurt”. Each year that we get our flu shots they can’t believe the screaming that comes from some of the other exam rooms. I get that some people are really afraid of shots so I’m so thankful that DH was able to get them to accept the pain of medical procedures. This has served us well with the number of stitches they’ve gotten too.

  106. I’ve instituted a policy with my kids that helps with shots. Any time I take them to the Dr. and they get a shot, I’ll take them for ice cream afterwards.

  107. One of our neighbors has throat cancer. He went public in the local county newspaper to tell his story. He really wants to educate the parents of boys about how he got cancer because he wants more parents to vaccinate their sons. He believes his cancer would have been prevented if a vaccine existed when he was a teen.

    He was

  108. Finn, yes, that scar is exactly what I have. That’s why I said “us”. And you gave me the info I was asking about. Thanks.

  109. “Each year that we get our flu shots they can’t believe the screaming that comes from some of the other exam rooms.”

    And then there’s DD, who at 8 literally crawled under the chairs in the exam room, screaming and kicking and refusing to come out. Talk about parental humiliation. . . .

  110. Lauren, at Thanksgiving my sister was telling the story of my sweet, shy, gentle niece who, in attempting to fend off a shot, had to be held by 3 nurses, kicked one in the face and hauled off and spit at the first one who approached her. I think my sister was the one who wanted to crawl under something.

  111. It’s so funny how every kid is different. My kid doesn’t care about shots, and recently survived a root canal with no problem. If she needs a strep test…forget it. She freaks out, and she doesn’t want them to stick anything down her throat. She used to get held for that when she was much younger.

  112. My kids were pretty good for shots. We bribed them with donuts afterwards. There were a number of occasions where we would go in tellling them: “The goal is that nobody does anything memorable”

  113. A colleague’s son need middle school vaccinations and he refused. They chased him around the room for awhile. At his age (and size) he couldn’t be held down. They filed for an exemption, and then later completed with the aid of sedatives. Yikes.

  114. Tangent: A local community college instructor has been teaching biology for over 48 years, since the college opened. I imagine that he is really good at teaching introductory biology. I had a similar good experience with community college physics, though my instructor had been teaching only ~30 years.

  115. We follow the medical recommendations. I am really not in a position to substitute my judgment. Our middle child had the rotavirus, and I am very happy our youngest got the vaccine.

  116. Rhett – that was a wonderful article. I had a comment related to old age which sort of applies to the article but I will save it for the upcoming ageing well post.

  117. Rhett – I found this response to a comment amusing.

    “I find it very disturbing to read such a major focus on her intimate personal life versus her wonderful scientific accomplishments.”.

    …Nearly all NYT readers understand the details of her personal life, almost no NYT readers would understand the details of her scientific accomplishments.

  118. Louise,

    In the comments, it does seem like she’s getting judged more harshly as a women than if she were an equally quirky an accomplished man.

  119. Those shot stories made me laugh! Except for Ada’s colleague’s kid–yikes! My DS has only tried to resist once. He kicked me, and the nurses asked if he needed to be held down. They weren’t threatening or even talking to him. It’s a procedure they sometimes have to do. He saw it was real and that was it. No resistance before or since.

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