Sunday, October 25, 2009

Declaration for Vaccination

A few years ago I read about the 1918 influenza pandemic. I stumbled into a truly gripping book on the present day search for the historical virus (this book has Eskimos, adventurers, and edge of your seat science).

Like so many historical events, it turns out my family was shaped by that epidemic. My grandfather, a young child of missionaries, was traveling back to Egypt after time in the United States. In New York, waiting to disembark on the long journey by sea, he caught influenza. A compassionate woman (a "church lady" and a mother according to the retelling- which probably means a stranger or acquaintance) took him in and nursed him back to health. This brave and generous woman caught the infectious disease and died. My grandfather's life would continue to be shaped by the fact that someone died helping him. His life needed to be more because it had costs others so dearly. In his adulthood he built churches, schools, and orphanages in some of the world's poorest regions.

Recently I was telling this story to a friend, a nurse, and she said, "Don't you think medicine is better today?" Well, of course it is; however EPIDEMIC numbers of sick people can quickly overwhelm the medical infrastructure. Current projections for Indiana suggest future problems (note: that's 57% of hospital beds, not 57% of available hospital beds- most hospitals run above 43% capacity). Some people, such as those with existing health conditions and pregnant women, don't find much relief from modern medicine.

I believe that vaccination is better for individuals and the community than the alternative. I believe it enough that I stood in line for 4 hours with a 4 year-old Ranger and the 11 month-old Raptor so they could get H1N1 shots. Contrary to rumors, not all forms of the immunization have mercury and even Dr. Sears recommends them for children. Dr. Sears even states

"We are dealing with the same thing we face with flu shots every year: same chemical ingredients, new flu vaccine strains."

Our parents and grandparents underwent much greater risk in the fight against polio mid-twentieth century. Anyone bearing vaccination scars on their arms received a live shot of polio, but they made the disease a rarity.

Now is the time for courage.

***Baby Toolkit is not affiliated with the CDC nor any health organization or company. We are not medical professionals nor oracles. We are geek parents endowed with literacy and reason.


Dana said...

I'm with you Adrienne. It's strange how you sometimes seem to post about exactly what is on my mind. I read a book about the spanish flu a few years ago myself, and it was wild. They didn't have antibiotics then- but who is to say the ones we have now would kill the pneumonia that killed all of those people? Who is to say our health system could handle it? I want my kids to either get the virus now, or get the vaccine when it becomes available here in the next two weeks. I want them to have that residual immunity for when, inevitably, this virus or a similar one comes down the pike. I want them to have access to health care before the system gets flooded. Fingers crossed enough people get protected that it doesn't get to that point.

michael d said...

Thank you! I'm tired of the vaccination "deniers" controlling the conversation. My husband and I are ardent advocates of vaccination, not just for our own daughter's health, but also for community benefit. We're all in this together.

Alan said...

When I first saw this post I was a little nervous where it would go, but right on, thanks for saying this.

KGS said...

Wow, I feel lucky to have stood in line for only 2 hours in Phoenix! It was a strange experience for our normally healthy family to be in that "most at risk" section of the population, but with a preschooler and a baby on the way, we made getting vaccinated a high priority this year. I appreciate our normally good health a little more now, and hope this helps both our family and those around us with weakened immune systems.

Dot said...

Great post.

And I adore your disclaimer!

Logan said...

Dr. Sears is a quack who should have his medical license revoked. With his vocal promotion of his "modified vaccine schedule" he's responsible for the spreading of deadly disease and, probably, the deaths of many children.

His books are intentionally misleading about the safety of vaccines. He quotes statistics of diseases and then says that the vaccines probably aren't necessary because, look, the # of people who get xyz disease is so small. But the reason the # of infected is so small is specifically BECAUSE PEOPLE VACCINATE.

If he was honest, he would use data for infection rates that pre-date the vaccine. But he isn't interested in making valid comparisons. He's interested in lining his own pockets by playing off parent's fears of possible vaccine reactions.

All the modified vaccine schedule does is delay protecting your children, which leaves them succeptible to horrific, potentially fatal, diseases.

There are people who, because of medical conditions or allergies, can't be vaccinated. They gain protection by way of herd immunity. By not vaccinating yourself or your children you are putting those people who are most vulnerable in our population at risk of death. Which is unacceptably self centered.

Vaccines are such an important way to protect both the ones we love and the population at large. Good for you for getting H1N1 for your kids. Everyone should.

Richard said...

This is possibly one of the few posts on the web in favor of vaccination. Thanks for being literate and rational.

We are still waiting for the H1N1 vaccine in Delaware. But when it arrives the baby (9 months) is going to get it, and the parents if there is enough.

A.Marie said...

Hi there! I found your blog when I was on Chief Family Officer. You wrote a great article! I am going to click on the book link that you mentioned. My Dad's dear Mother died of the Asian Flu, in 1957, and our family's history was changed also.

My teen son and I both had probable H1N1 (not confirmed by the strict laboratory test) and let me tell you what, Tamiflu was a God-send for my son. It lessened the virus' spread and he ended up with symptoms of a bad cold. I, however, reacted to the Tamiflu and had to stop it after 2 doses. OH My Goodness...I was SICK! This virus is NASTY!!

About Tamiflu, though, my doctor said that only those who fit the criteria will receive it. Since I have Crohns Disease and teen son has asthma, we qualified. My hubby and other teen daughter won't be able to have Tamiflu if they come down with the H1N1, because they are otherwise "healthy". I don't know if this is true of all areas, but in my small town, that is what the doctors are saying.

Jen said...

Thanks for saying this. We are so concerned that some in our family won't get vaccinated (to protect our 3 month old who isn't able to get it yet) due to the crazy articles out there against vaccines. I just don't think the research is there in most of them, and it makes us nuts (as librarian and scientist parents). We are spoiled by having reduced the incidence of serious illness so greatly - through vaccination. The only reason whooping cough, potentially deadly for young children, is even around to get now, is these people coming out against vaccination. Let us hope that even more serious illnesses, like polio for instance, do not also return. I truly hope to read more good sense like this in the future, everywhere!