Saturday, May 18, 2013

To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate

There is so much controversy surrounding vaccinations for infants and young children. Whether to vaccinate your child is a very important decision that every parent is faced with. How many vaccines do you allow at one time? Should you follow the CDC's Recommended Immunization Schedule or in my case the Recommended Immunization Schedule from Austria or do you delay or spread out the vaccines? What benefits come from either choice? What negative aspects exist? The CDC recommends following their guideline for immunizing your children from birth through age 6 in order to prevent putting your child at "...risk of becoming ill with vaccine-preventable diseases." The CDC's Recommended Immunization Schedule includes the same vaccinations as the Austrian Immunization Schedule, with the exception of Varicella, however, the Austrian schedule is much lighter. Immunizations, in the first year, are given at 7 weeks, 3, 5 and 12 months of age and are generally only given one at a time.

For my husband and I, vaccinating was an easy choice. We have both been vaccinated against all childhood diseases without a problem, so it was not a question as to whether or not our daughter would also receive the same vaccinations. What we did discuss with our doctor was the immunization schedule and how not to overload her system all at once. Luckily, we found that the suggested vaccination schedule here in Austria fit with what we were looking evenly spread out schedule of vaccines.  The Vaccination Debate is one that has been going on for centuries and still people: doctors, parents, governments remain at a stand still. Vaccines must be given or consequences are faced; such as not being allowed to register your child for school. We have been very lucky. I wish all parents felt as involved in the decision of how many, what, and when to vaccinate their children and were not forced by a government mandate to vaccinate such young children so heavily.

Alexa received her first round of what I call "heavy duty" vaccines and she has been sad, sleepy and feverish all afternoon and evening. It's heart breaking to see her so unhappy and feeling so bad, but the alternative is unimaginable. I, personally, think that vaccinating is the right choice for our family, but if we were living in the US then I would most definitely spread out the vaccination schedule. I think little immune systems work hard enough fighting off simple germs in the environment and to overload them with so many other germs is just asking for trouble. I know many people in the US who have followed the recommended schedule without a problem, but I think it would make it easier for me to sleep at night knowing I had spread those immunizations out a little bit.

I'm hoping my little nugget is feeling better in the morning. I prefer to see her smiling and not crying.

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