Sticker Shock

Joshua had his first vaccinations today. The vaccination schedule for a baby begins immediately in the hospital. I believe he had his first shots his first night here on Earth. The second stage won’t occur until the two month pediatrician check-up, and then again at the four-month check-up.

The actual vaccinations consisted of 3 shots (2 in one thigh, 1 in the other) and a bit of medicine administered orally. All things considered, the visit went well. Joshua choked and spluttered a bit with the oral vaccination, since the liquid is thick, though it is sweet so he won’t fight it too hard. For the shots on his legs… well… there was crying. But the crying wasn’t bad. Well, not for me anyway.

A couple important things came to light for me with this particular crying session. For one, I knew why he was crying. This is super rare. Without a doubt, I know he was upset because he was in pain, and being able to readily identify and understand the source of Joshua’s crying did worlds for helping me empathize with him. Normally when he cries I’m so focused on figuring out what the problem is and helping him stop that I never really pause to feel too bad for him. He’s a baby and babies cry. This is sort of a mantra I hear repeated by almost every parent I’ve spoken to. But today I was able to actually connect with his crying and understand it. I didn’t shift into fix-it mode, I shifted into pure Dad and felt bad for the little guy. I could feel how sad he was, watching his super-pouty lip and quivering lower jaw.

Perhaps more importantly, once the shots were done, I picked him up to cuddle him and almost immediately he stopped crying. Granted, the crying has been returning on and off all day now, but he was upset and when Daddy picked him up for comfort, he was comforted. This is also a new thing. Typically when Joshua is crying not only are we totally confused by him… but he tends to just keep crying. Our best assessment of his well-being is that when he’s crying he’s either tired or trying to poop or pass gas. Those aren’t necessarily things you can deal with by simply being present and trying to give off little invisible pulses of caring.

So, Joshua getting shots was bad, but maybe not so bad.

But let’s deal with the elephant in the room right now. Should you get vaccinations for your baby? Yes. This is another point where I’m not going to be diplomatic like the books. Get your child vaccinated. If we’re buddies and you’re in the “vaccinations are bad for my baby!” camp, let’s just have that be something we never talk about, because I want to be friends with you.

As for my thoughts on the issue… beyond the fact that there is no medical study that links vaccinations with disorders like autism, there is real, concrete risk to your child if they are not vaccinated. Many diseases we vaccinate for are more or less dead in the United States. But much as many of us here may want it to be, the world is more than the United States. The world has some of those diseases still, and they’re nasty.

But, let’s for arguments sake say that a vaccination could trigger something like autism in your child. A disease could trigger something like death or paralysis in your child. Would you prefer a child who is socially/emotionally challenged to one that will never walk again? Will you carry your caution to other areas in your child’s life? Maybe they’ll never drive a car because they could get into an accident. Maybe they never eat a french fry because it could contribute to heart disease. Maybe they’ll never watch an action movie because, despite studies to the contrary, watching violence will make them a serial killer.

If you believe in avoiding vaccination for your child, at what point do you stop protecting your child from potential, tenuously linked dangers for their actions? And even if you believe that link is solid, the incident rate for a vaccination to induce autism in your child would be so low as to be practically nothing. Lower, say, than your child just naturally becoming autistic. Lower than the chance of your child having any number of very bad, maybe fatal things happening to them.

For me it’s a matter of weighing options. There’s a very, very low chance that a vaccination will harm Joshua in any number of ways. An unvaccinated Joshua exposed to polio will get polio. Polio is bad. Case closed.

But again, let’s just say that enough has been said about this topic and agree to disagree if that’s the case, because this is a disagreement that touches on fundamental ways in which we view the world.

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  1. #1 by Júlli on July 28, 2010 - 7:13 AM

    I agree with you Michael, but there is also one important fact that isn’t talked about (especially in the US apparently), Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who did the intitial testing and found a link between vaccinations and autism, was paid to find those links by a law firm in the UK that specialises in medical mal-practice suits. What’s more, Lancet, the medical journal that first published these findings withdrew the report and apologised for it. Wakefield has even been stripped of his medical license in the UK.
    Agree or disagree, I do think it’s important to look at the facts in order to make an informed judgement on this, especially when it comes to a child’s wellbeing.

    Here are two links that explain this further, one from The Times and the other from the journalist who first published the story:

  2. #2 by Júlli on July 28, 2010 - 7:14 AM

    I should maybe add that no other research has found links between autism and vaccinations.

  3. #3 by Oliver Grigsby on July 28, 2010 - 8:21 AM

    Great article from Wired. “An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All”

  4. #4 by Badmoodman on July 28, 2010 - 4:22 PM

    An FYI here…don’t be surprised if J-Scar gets a fever tonight. It’s not uncommon after vaccinations.

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