Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Parenting Bookshelf--the Vaccine Books

When my daughter was first born, I was much more tractable and trusting of mainstream medical practices than I am now.  I didn't question too much.  My research was limited to the mainstream parenting magazines, and they all said that the worst thing that could happen from vaccination was fever, and perhaps temporary redness and soreness at the injection site.  The wackadoos who claimed otherwise were tin-foil-hat freaks who were relying on everyone else's herd immunity because of nonsensical fears that the thimerosol in the MMR would make their kids autistic.  (Note: the MMR has never contained thimerosol, but that is typical of the misinformation in these types of articles.)  In other words, pretty much the same thing they say now.

Our ped at that time delayed the Hep B vaccine until after 1 month, but otherwise she was fully vaccinated according to the CDC.  When our son was born, though, I felt really uneasy.  We waited until he was 2 months to do any vaccines, but then he got the full recommendations.  He also got a fever over 103, and cried for hours.  At his 4 month appointment, I told the ped, hoping that she would tell us not to go ahead.  She said that anything over 104 was her cut off.  Every instinct inside me shrieked against it, but like a good little girl I went ahead.  And I believe it is only the grace of God that I didn't lose my son.

This time was worse than the previous reaction, which is typical for vaccine reactions.  By the next day, his fever was 104, but what concerned me was his breathing.  He was pale, grunting with each breath and looked so worried.  I recognized the expression on his face from my worst asthma attacks.  He was concentrating so hard on breathing that he couldn't nurse or do anything else.  Carlos had our only car, and was in class with no cell-phone.  I called my parents and the ped, and prayed as hard as I ever have in my life.  By the time my parents arrived, his breathing was much better.  Within a couple of hours, his fever was gone.  Even so, his smile became lop-sided for months, and I always wondered if it was connected to the shots.  It was the last time any of our children were vaccinated.

I had needed a wake-up call, and I got one.  I began researching all the stuff I had put off before because it seemed so daunting.

I started talking to other moms who didn't vaccinate.  I hung out in forums, reading everything I could, and of course, I got some books.  The problem with books is that vaccines are an ever-moving target.  There are always new additions, and there have been some changes in the vaccines (although not as many as you might think).  Because of this, I will add a few links at the end.

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations by Stephanie Cave, M.D.  This book is from 2001, and therefore dated.  It focuses a lot on thimerosol and autism.  I would still recommend it, though, for the excellent look at vaccines and autoimmune issues.  We have a significant family history of asthma, allergies and other things that made this section even more relevant for us.  It is still worth reading.

Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide by Aviva Jill Romm.  Also from 2001, and not by an M.D.  However, it is very well documented and researched.  It provides an overview of vaccine history and a wealth of other information, including natural treatments for the diseases and for the vaccines.  After reading it, I still wasn't exactly sure if the author was for or against vaccines.  I appreciated that kind of balance.

Just a Little Prick by Hilary Butler.  This one was a little more challenging to read.  For one thing, it is huge--496 pages.  And frankly the writing style has a lot of personal touches that can make you wish for a good editor to go in and streamline things a bit.  It isn't written by a medical professional, and it makes no pretense of being unbiased.  However, I consider it a must-read.  It is from 2006 and very thorough.  The footnotes alone are an incredibly valuable resource.  If you really want to access all the medical studies, peer-reviewed publications, history and more, if you are concerned about serotype replacement and the impact of nutrition, you can't afford not to read this.

Take Charge of Your Child's Health by George Wootan, M.D.  He is our doctor's brother, so that of course piqued my interest.  He devotes an entire chapter to vaccinations and includes an overview of the diseases and vaccines,and includes treatments and complications of both.  It is from 2000, though, and again, dated.  Slightly off topic, but I am so grateful for my Dr. Wootan's practice.  Instead of being hassled about not vaccinating our children, the nurses and Dr. have expressed their relief that we are educating ourselves.

How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor by Robert Mendelsohn, M.D.  Dr. Mendelsohn's credentials are extremely impressive.  This book is from 1984--an antique, almost, in terms of vaccines, but still worthy of reading.  It is also interesting to see how the perspective on childhood diseases has changed.  Just how deadly is chicken pox for an otherwise healthy child?

The Vaccine Book by Bob Sears, M.D.  This one is the most current (2008, with updates on the Ask Dr Sears site).  It is excellently done, very balanced and the section on aluminum is extremely important for everyone to read.  This is great for middle of the road parents who still believe in the need for vaccines, but are concerned about the huge increase in the number of vaccines and the one-size-fits-all approach of the CDC.

Now for the websites.  There are extremists on both ends of the vaccine debate.  There are hysterical zealots like Dr. Paul Offit whom I consider nothing better than a snake-oil salesman out to terrify parents into vaccinating so that he can make more money (he is a vaccine patent-holder who also works on the advisory board for the CDC.  Conflict of interest, anyone?)  There are also misinformed and naive parents who occasionally post on websites (although in my experience, the forum members are pretty good at policing themselves, and the better educated and informed posters will usually correct blatant misinformation, which is more than can be said of most pro-vaccine articles).  Anyway, you should definitely do your own info and verify any information that you read, regardless of whether it is for or against vaccines.  There are way too many to list, and the sites are constantly changing, but these are a couple of places to start:  Yeah, the CDC.  It is blatantly pro-vaccine (and employs people like Offit), but still offers a huge amount of information.  They were actually the ones to convince us to stop vaccinating! This one is one of my favorite sources.  Well-respected sources, but against vaccination.  They break down the diseases and vaccines individually.  Guggie Daly has been working on a lot of vaccine posts lately that are full of information and links to start you on your research.  This is a great starting point, and rather than retyping all the links, I'll just send you here.  You will find the vaccine safety inserts, info from the companies themselves and a ton of other resources. The vaccine forum for Gentle Christian Mothers.  Lots of stickies and links here, too!  MDC vaccine forum.  Tons of resources for those who want an alternative view of vaccines.

Unlike the CDC, I don't believe that one size fits all when it comes to vaccines.  All vaccines are not equal, some diseases are more dangerous and more prevalent than others, and each family has its own risk/benefit ratio to consider.  It is a big topic, and it can be overwhelming, I know.  But I firmly believe that we have the responsibility as parents to research and not go along with any choice blindly, but to know what the risks and benefits are for our individual children.


Guggie Daly said...

:) Thanks for sharing! I'm bookmarking this post to give to parents when they ask what to start reading.

Kristi said...

I would add a very worthwhile book that has thousands of medical references and lay out each disease/vaccine is "The Vaccine Safety Manual: For Concerned Family Members and Health Practitioners" By Neil Z. Miller or the "footnotes" version by the same author "Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective?"

Jessika Bailey said...

Thank you for this! I am sharing it on my fan page. One of these days I will get around to writing mine, which is what I told Mama Eve ( after reading hers vaccine post! Ah, one day!

dulce de leche said...

Thank you all so very much! <3 Kristi, I will definitely look into that one. Thank you!

Mrs. 2nd Lieutenant said...

also, for those who are opposed to some vaccines for ethical reasons - they are made from aborted babies - the Children of God for Life Website is great.

They list all the vax, which come from aborted babies, which don't and which have alternatives!

thanks for this post, it was good!