Today my Birdie was supposed to have her first well baby visit and get her first round of vaccinations. I chickened out and cancelled the appointment.
I recently read Dr. Sear's Vaccine Book and I thought I had it all figured out. We were going to fore go the Hib, PC and Rotovirus shots and still get the DTaP, Polio and MMR when they came due. There was no question about HepB, Varicella or Flu shots; She's not getting them. I've been researching from the beginning and every time I think I've got a handle on the whole risk v. benefits of childhood vaccination, something else comes up and I have to start all over again.
What it came down to for me today was that I have a hard time taking a perfectly healthy child to the doctor. I can just hear the worry warts now.
How can you KNOW she's perfectly healthy if you don't have a doctor god tell you so?!?
I know my child is healthy because she eats well and she's gaining weight. Loud noises startle her and she can follow brightly colored objects from across the room. She's smiling, babbling, and holding up her head.
The whole concept of a "well baby visit" really gets my goat. I can see the public health value of widespread health screening for childhood disorders, but do we really need to be spending money taking otherwise healthy kids to a doctors office where they are exposed to all kinds of illnesses just to identify one or two children that might need further testing? Why don't we cut health care costs by investing in education campaigns so parents know what developmental milestones their children should be reaching and help them become better judges of when their children need to see a health professional?
I know that by eschewing well baby visits I am depriving my doctor of the chance to harass me over the vaccine issue. I wonder if that isn't a major driving force behind the well baby schedule. You come in every couple of months for a well baby visit and it just so happens that you need all of your vaccinations at that time.
I guess I just haven't made up my mind yet. I want to protect my daughter but with all of the conflicting information out there, I need more time to make my decision. I think if she weren't breastfed or if she went to daycare I would be more willing to get her vaccinated. If we were going to live in a third world country there would be no question about vaccination, but our risk/benefit balance is a little more complicated than that. I just get tired of those who say "Vaccines have never hurt anyone!" (I wish they would tell that to my lawn guy who lost one twin daughter to the old DPT while the other one is permanently disabled) I get equally as tired of those in tin foil hats who claim vaccines are a joint venture between the government and big pharma to make us sicker so they can control us. As we all learned in historiography, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
I don't think vaccines are completely safe. I suspect that profit has been the driving force behind our current vaccine schedule. When Dr. Paul Offit, co-inventor of the current rotovirus vaccine, gets up and rails against those who would do the country harm by suggesting vaccines aren't completely safe, I suspect that he is partly concerned with his own bottom line. I can't figure out why we're vaccinating for chicken pox when even the best of numbers put childhood deaths from the disease at under 100 children per year. On the other hand, I believe that vaccines have saved lives, I'm just not sure which lives. No one will give me an unbiased crunch of the numbers.
At this point, I'm not going to reschedule the well baby visit. I'm comfortable in my decision and I'm going to revisit it in another year. We'll see if things have changed by then.