On vaccines

So today we have this from Aaron Carroll:  Delaying vaccinations is stupid.

You know, it’s hard to get past that kind of a headline, and I’m not a vaccine denier.  However, it is important to keep in mind the motivations of the parties involved, and their past behaviors and track records.  So, it is in the financial interest of doctors to sell us vaccines, and obviously also same thing for the pharmaceutical companies.  That does not make them bad, or harmful, by definition.  Possibly unnecessary and wasteful (Are you willing to take the chance that your child catches chickenpox, and maybe gets shingles later?  How about the flu?).  Something to consider.

Regarding the immunization schedule, Mr. Carroll says “the current schedule is optimized to achieve a good immune response, achieve protection before a child might be exposed, and prevent adverse events. We didn’t pull it out of a hat.”   Really?  I would like to see the history of that.  Because my admittedly lax research turned up this history of the schedule as being developed by the government.  The same people who are giving us the awesome ACA exchanges.

Here is some interesting and useful information from the post, regarding ongoing improvements to immunizations.  Wonderful to know:  “Another point, often overlooked, is that it is not the number of vaccines, or even shots, that matters.  It’s the number of antigens in those vaccines.  Advances in technology have allowed for fewer and fewer antigens to be required to achieve a good response.  So while a single smallpox vaccine hack in the day had over 200 different proteins in it, and the 7 vaccines in the 1980’s contained more than 2000, the 11 vaccines in the currently recommended schedule have only about 125 in all.”

However, it is also important to keep in mind the real life experience of moms everywhere.  Anybody else out there have a kid get a fever as an obvious vaccine reaction?  Hot, red site?  Yeah, me too.  So if I decide, hey, I’m not planning on taking my kids to Somalia or Pakistan any time soon, lets delay the polio vaccine, I’m not sure who is at risk here.  When I read something like “Dr. Paul Offit and colleagues estimated that infants likely have the capacity to respond to about 10,000 vaccines at any one time.  No vaccine could “use up” the immune system.  In fact, estimates showed that if a child received 11 vaccines at one time, that might occupy about 0.1% of the immune system.  You’d never notice that,” it doesn’t pass the smell test.  Because YES WE DID NOTICE IT.  That’s not a reason to delay or avoid the shots, but it does reduce the credibility of the science, or at least the conclusions that are being drawn.

My takeaway as a mom?  Don’t miss MMR or DPT schedule, because those diseases are out there and can really harm your baby, and others.  But everything else?  I’m not convinced that the schedule is necessarily the best plan for everyone.

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