USA Today - Hib Infection Makes It's Deadly Return

Written by Tela Kayne

I recently received an email from my friend Jennifer with a link to an article by USA Today, “Hib Infection makes it’s Deadly Return“.  In her email, Jennifer raises a valid point:

“In the interest of fairness, I think it would be great to see you post something about these outbreaks on your website. We are so fortunate to have access to life saving vaccines in this country and sometimes I think we forget how many children used to die from communicable diseases.”

Based on the USA Today article and the fact that a vaccine court recently ruled that there is no biological plausibility that MMR vaccines and Thimerosal cause Autism, I think it’s time for discussion.  While I’ve never been anti-vaccine, I definitely promote parental caution in the number of vaccines a child receives at a given time due to the amounts of aluminum and other preservatives used.  In order to do this, parents must follow an alternative schedule.  The USA Today article contends that by not following the traditional schedule, we are putting our infants at risk for infection.    What do you think?  I would love to get other parental input on this topic.  Please leave a comment on what you feel is the best course of action with regard to your child’s vaccinations.

And a big thank you to Jennifer for bringing up this issue and reminding me of what Babyminding is all about…providing all of the information so we as parents can determine what’s in the best interest of our children’s health and wellness.

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  1. Jennifer State

    Thanks for posting! This is of particular importance to me, because as Tela knows, I have delayed a few of my son’s vaccinations because he has been sick. We now have blood tests indicating that indeed his immune system is functioning normally, so we intend to catch up on vaccines asap. My daughter was rarely sick as an infant and toddler and received all vaccines on schedule. I think nearly all children are healthy enough to follow the recommended schedule, however there are children out there for whom vaccines can be dangerous. I don’t want to diminish the difficult decisions the parents of those children face. I just don’t want to see our children suffer or die from diseases that were previously eradicated.

  2. Tela,

    It is important to understand that individual vaccine recommendations must include considerations of current outbreaks/trends in infant and childhood mortality as well as the socio-economic risks faced by the child and the child’s immune status.

    A perfect example of this is the HepB vaccine. This vaccine was originally recommended only for at risk newborns (those in impoverished areas with high rates of HepB in the adult population). Since HepB is transmitted by blood, it can only be contracted from sexual activity, sharing of needles or blood transfusion. The overwhelming majority of children are at virtually NO risk of contracting HepB.

    However, the original vaccination program was a failure insofar as it failed to get sufficient vaccination rates among the target population, so the decision was made to make it mandatory for all children. It is given at birth, not for any medical reason, but for the simple fact that the target population is less likely to have adequate post-natal care and more likely to have mothers who are already infected with HepB.

    Is this good public health policy? Probably. But for my child, I choose to wait until he is closer in age to when the risk of contracting HepB is elevated.

    Now when it comes to infectious disease such as HiB, a different calculus is required. I personally believe in vaccinating my children against infectious diseases that have high rates of morbidity / mortality even if the risk of contracting the actual infection is low. We work in consultation with our pediatrician to rank which of the immunizations provide the greatest reduction in mortality risk to our children, and then give them in the order of greatest benefit to lowest (some we skipped). While we use combination vaccines when necessary (as individual vaccines are becoming harder to find), we never give more than one shot per visit. We also gird ourselves for the inevitable ear infection after each combination vaccine.

    In summary, one must educate themselves about what each vaccine does, consider the risks their children face based upon current infectious disease outbreaks (if any), their socio-economic status and with consideration to the child’s immune status.

    (For example my belief is that formula fed children have a greater need for immunizations than breast fed children since they don’t get the benefit of immune complexes that are transmitted via breast milk to the baby).

    Then immunize accordingly. A ones size fits all solution is defensible only because it simplifies things for Bureaucrats, not because it actually makes sense. Just my two cents anyway.


  3. Jennifer State

    While John raises valid points, how would a government or a doctor’s office implement individualized vaccine policies? It isn’t feasible. So it’s up to educated parents like to John to make these decisions for their children. But what about the children who don’t have parents like John? Children in lower socio-economic groups need certain protections that they aren’t going to get if it’s left up to their parents. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I know that measles was present at the highest rate last year in the U.S. than it’s been in 10 years. We’re nearly certain that vaccines don’t cause autism, and we are absolutely certain that they stop communicable diseases.

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