Immunization: to or not to?

I is for immunization: to or not to?

I can’t remember when I learnt about the immunization process and schedule in the UK, but at some point after Precious Sparkle was born I had to consider this issue.

To immunize or not to immunize?

I bought a book at a Mum2Mum Market’s nearly new sale about reasons why not to immunize babies. I was however told by the family who sold it to me to take it with a pinch of salt. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read the book.

I have also had lengthy discussions with some of my mummy friends about a range of views on immunizing children. I remember stumbling on an article that considered the decision of some parents not to immunize their children to be selfish; I don’t agree with this.

All these left me unsettled about following through with Precious Sparkle’s immunization schedule. However, I was also unsettled about not following through with it. I was immunized as a child and I grew up seeing it as a positive act.

Key concerns

I am uncomfortable with the idea of introducing live virus into my baby. I am concerned about its potential effects, even though it works well in majority of cases. I will be very unhappy with myself if immunizing him negatively impacts him in any way.

However, it is also worrying to think that Precious Sparkle will be unprotected against some really nasty viral killers in the future. The thought that he could be more easily infected with the diseases that most children are immunized against makes me shudder. I couldn’t forgive myself if anything really bad happened to him as a result of my decision not to immunize him.

My decision

After careful consideration of my concerns, I bit the rusty bullet, went to my surgery, and booked his appointment. I felt there were more reasons to immunize him than not to.

First Immunization

His dad and I took him for his first immunization. We had to decide who was going to hold him … how to hold to him … how to quickly turn him so that nurse could inject his second thigh without faffing around … it was quite a plan.

I was sad to learn that it would be a painful experience for him; albeit, one that he wouldn’t remember. It was scary hearing the nurse list the potential effects of the injections. I tried to write down her key points; I didn’t want to forget anything that was vital. The nurse was very reassuring and she answered every question we asked.

I was thankful to know that breastfeeding him as soon as possible afterwards would help him to calm down and feel better. However, I was a bit concerned because he would have received an oral shot of live rota virus beforehand. Even then, the thought of breastfeeding him afterwards empowered me a bit; it was something I could do to BE with him in the situation. It made me feel better than holding him as still as possible for painful injections.

I hoped and prayed that he wouldn’t have any side effects, at least nothing serious. I didn’t mind if he slept a bit more than usual, but that didn’t happen. 🙂 I decided to hold him instead of my husband. I suppose this made me feel less helpless.

The nurse prepared her material and immunized Precious Sparkle; it was over before we knew it. It was hard offering his other thigh to the nurse whilst he cried from the first injection. I tried to cuddle him as he cried really hard. 🙁 I was given cotton wool to stem the minor bleeding, before plaster was placed over the injections’ points. We then left the nurses’ room to breastfeed; she had other appointments, you see.

When he was okay enough, we stopped feeding and booked his next appointment. We were extra careful with our hand-washing after every nappy change for a while. We were also very fortunate that Precious Sparkle didn’t have any visible side effect as such.

2nd and 3rd Immunization

I took him to his 12 and 18 weeks immunisation alone; his dad had to be at work. I was more confident because I knew what to expect, but it was nonetheless hard watching him cry in response to the pain of the injection. I hate injections. Seeing my baby receive injections on his thighs and enabling this to happen is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a mother. I am so glad that it’s not a long process.

He had a light fever after the 3rd one; ushering in my first brush with Calpol. It wasn’t an easy introduction, I saw it as putting in more chemicals into his system. Added to this, I don’t like medication. But hey, we’ve got to do what we got to … right?

His interest vs. my preference

In instances like this, I’m learning to accept that my preferences have to take a back seat. I have to consider what’s in my child’s interest, what’s really best for him. If we had decided not to immunize him, I will feel that we’re protecting him from chemical concoctions and their potential side effects. However, I know that we will also be leaving him exposed … unprotected from potential infections from really nasty illnesses.

Of course, immunization does not offer 100% protection from all horrible childhood ailments and it has some potentially bad side effects. I’m however satisfied that it does offer some vital protection and that it’s a result of a lot of professional thought and care. I accept that in today’s world, immunisation is a necessary measure.

Even then, I think each parent is entitled to decide what to do.

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What side of the immunisation debate are you? Was it an easy decision for you? Did you have to deal with any side effects?

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20 thoughts on “Immunization: to or not to?

  1. This is a really interesting post, thanks for sharing it. Getting Boo immunised was one of the most difficult things, I made the mistake of taking her to her first ones alone and I will admit I cried, so my husband came with me to the second and third ones (and to the ones at a year – which were worse because Boo kind of had some idea what was happening and it was three injections) I think that as muchas it was difficult and there is always a worry about what exactly will this injection do (short and long term) to my baby, I don’t think I would ever forgive myself if we didn’t and Boo caught something.
    Jenni – Odd Socks and Lollipops recently posted…Project 365 – #15My Profile

    • Glad your hubby was able to come with you for the other appointments. It’s a really emotional tough job! We did our 13months schedule on Fri … ‘heart wrenching’ comes to mind. I’m planning to write about it soon. Sometimes inspite of how we feel, we’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do because we’ve got to do it; never mind how we feel. 🙂

  2. I almost couldn’t read this! As a doctor I’m do strongly for immunisation that I can’t bear to read anti-vax propaganda.

    I worked in paediatrics for 3 years so I guess I have the fairly unique experience of having seen kids seriously unwell and in one case dying from preventable disease. I also spent time at a hospital in Nepal where many children were suffering from diseases we just don’t see in this country because of our immunisation schedule.

    I’ve heard a lot about vaccine injury but I’ve never seen it in real life.

    My parents didn’t give me the whooping cough vaccine and I caught whooping cough when I was about seven. I still remember it. I was I’ll for weeks, it was terrifying, I would cough until I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t sleep and I burst blood vessels I’m my eyes. I don’t want my kids to go through that.

    I try to respect the belief that it’s a personal choice but if think the argument for heard immunity is a compelling one. I didn’t enjoy the experience of my children being immunised but I felt I was doing the right thing for my children and for society.
    Morna piper recently posted…Why I need to have another babyMy Profile

    • Wow, you’re a doctor! Thanks for dropping by despite your hesistation, and for sharing from your experience. I’m going to ask my healthy visitor about the whooping cough vaccination. I think I took it when I was pregnant but I don’t know if it’s included in his vaccination schedule. I know what you mean about herd immunity, the article I referred was based on this. It must be really awful seeing childrent suffering from preventable illneses. Nonetheless, I’m not sure I’d support a law to make it compulsory for different reasons; however, I think it’s good to encourage everyone to do it.

  3. Just wanted to add that I don’t in any way think that your post was anti-vax – I thought it gave a well balanced viewpoint but I didn’t know that before I started reading! I prefer not to read things that upset me than read them and risk getting into a flame fight! I think you made a brave choice
    Morna piper recently posted…Why I need to have another babyMy Profile

    • Thanks for staying to clarifying that, I realyl appreciate it. Maybe I should state my position from the start? Flame fight isn’t good; much better to avoid what will stir it up in the first place. Yeah, I must say that I overall feel better choosing to go along with the immunization programme in the UK than against it. 🙂

    • Yeah, it’s pain that children don’t remember and one that is known to do them a world of good. It was reported on BBC News on Sunday, that Australia will be withdrawing benefits from those who don’t vaccinate except it’s for medical reasons or strongly held religious beliefs (Something along this lines, I think). And they have 90% vaccination rate in Australia. As Morna said, the herd’s immunity argument is a strong case for vaccination.Thanks for your comment.

  4. interesting topic! I think I’m a bit like you. I’m a bit hesitant to be completely pro vaccination. There are all sorts of side effects and allergies that some people say are due to the “over” immunisation of children. Do we really need immunisation against chicken pocks? Life threatening deseases yes of course but there are so many that can be treated easily but it’s cheaper to vaccinate everyone rather than treating the desease… Is that really the best for the body though? I don’t know… What I do find though is that as a mum we pretty much don’t have a choice! As soon as someone tells me there is a risk of my child dying yes of course I will have him vaccinated! I was talked into giving my kids the bcg vaccination but have to say that I do regret it at times…
    Christine – Yogaberry recently posted…My Captured Moment – The White Cliffs of Dover My Profile

    • Vaccination is one of the many ‘to or not to’ areas of parenting. We’re at a stage in society now where the herd’s immunity argument is one that’s difficult to argue againt. At the end of the day, who doesn’t want to do everything they can to protect their child. May I ask, ‘why do you sometimes regret going for the bcg vaccination?’ Thanks for sharing your view.

    • Yeah, I see what you mean. Sometimes, it’s better to err on the side of caution. You did what you thought best for your daughter, as you said, she’s protected and that’s good. Thanks for responding to my question 🙂

  5. I never really hesitated, it was just something I knew was for the best. Especially when you see the reports of mass immunizations when groups of children whose parents havent had them done then fall poorly. It wasnt nice seeing them cry but it passes and then they are back to their normal smiley selves 🙂 x
    Katy {What Katy Said} recently posted…My Captured Moment #15My Profile

  6. I remember going through the trauma of immunisation with my four – but really that “trauma” is solely down to irresponsible media manipulation of people’s emotional involvement. Babies encounter hundreds of live bacterial and viral pathogens each and every day, and “live viruses” are not injected, they are either weakened beyond the point where they can reproduce or synthesised copies, or even killed versions. As a mum of three who are immunodeficient and whose vaccinations rarely “take” I have a particular interest in herd immunity, which while many challenge this was clearly proven as cases of measles soared following the rubbish Andrew Wakefield propagated. As an educated and rational individual I am stunned that so many in America still believe vaccines cause Autism (I have two with ASD so i am not oblivious and have done considerable research) they are at least a decade behind the rest of the world in this belief which is pretty shocking for a first world country. #maternitymatters
    Kate Thompson recently posted…I’m hoping for an ASD, ADHD, Down’s and Spina Bifida Baby……My Profile

    • Thanks for your informative commment; especially for clarifying the ‘live virus’ point. There’s definitely a lot that can be said for herd immunity. Whilst I’m remain hesitant about vaccinations for a range of reasons, I appreciate their aim; and as such I choose to finish the immunization course for my child.

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