N.C. asks from Virginia Beach, VA on June 21, 2009
Advice on Vaccines
my 15 month old daughter is scheduled to have the mmr shot next month, i held off at her 12 month appt because i was uneasy with giving this shot so young. my hesitancy comes for 2 reasons. after the flu shot she broke out in a rash all over her body that lasted for 3 days. also with all the literature linking mmr to autism and even seizures and death for a child, i just don't know how to proceed. my gut tells me to be very cautious but i also don't want to leave my daughter open to disease either. i know that most children are just fine after receiving the shot, but then again, some are not. what have you decided regarding mmr? also, i heard from someone that their child had the shot broken up into 3 separate shots. any experience with this?
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L.D. answers from Washington DC on June 22, 2009
I have been following the recommended series of vaccinations for my 18 month old son. The only one I hesitated with was the mmr. I had the mmr shot broken up into 3 different shots. The doctor's office was more than willing to do that and they already had the separate shots on hand. We did one shot at the 15 month appointment, one shot about a month later at a shot clinic at my doctor's office, and the last shot at the 18 month appointment. I was just told there needs to be a month in between each of the shots. My son hasn't really had any reactions to any of the other vaccinations he's gotten, so I did it for my own peace of mind just in case. Good luck!
E.B. answers from Dover on June 22, 2009
I am cutting and pasting a article that I found in the archives of a newsletter that I receive daily from the American Academy of Physician Assistants (a credible source) that I remembered reading awhile back. I hope this helps...
Research suggests no link between MMR vaccine and autism.
In continuing coverage from previous briefings, HealthDay (2/5, Reinberg) reports that there is "no evidence of a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism," according to a study appearing in the Feb. issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood. This latest study, the "third and largest...that has looked for a connection between" autism and the MMR vaccine, "follows the release last week of a study that showed the mercury preservative thimerosal," which was "used in childhood vaccines until the turn of this century and thought by some to be associated with autism, doesn't remain in an infant's body long enough to build to dangerous levels."
According to WebMD (2/5, DeNoon), Gillian Baird, F.R.C.Paed., of Guy's Hospital, London, and colleagues, "looked for [the] measles virus and antibody responses to [the] measles virus in" 240 British "children aged 10 to 12," and "found...no difference in circulating measles virus or antibody levels among the children." Furthermore, "children with regressive autism had no unusual responses to measles vaccination."
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to child vaccines. Although they give side effects, it is better to have the vaccine when it is scheduled for them because, if something should happen and they actually get the disease....they are worse off than they started. Just something to think about.
My daughter (who is now three) had all of her shots as scheduled with no side effects. She had only one MMR shot (not a series of three). The series of three shots is the Hepatitis B vaccine which your child should already have all of those being the age that she is. I hope this helps you a bit in your decision to vaccinate your child. Good luck!
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S.M. answers from Washington DC on June 23, 2009
I know this is a touchy subject wo I will just describe how my opinions have changed over time.
I have a five year old. She was born at the peak of this anti-vaccine thinking regarding autism. A study was published which had made the link and everyone was scared including me. That major study was disproven. Even so, I borke the shot into three sepearate ones over about 15-21 months, I think.
Now I have a 16 month old. When she was born, my older daughter was in preschool, and all I could think about is how vulnerable the baby was to things my daughter might come home with. In the last 3 years, I have had whooping cough and shingles. I have also heard of measles and mumps outbreaks around the country. The thought behind these is that as 30-somehting and older adults, our immunity from our vaccines is wearing off. I never felt better than when my baby got her MMR at her last appointment. I welcome every vaccination as another step in protecting her, and I actually have a great deal of anger towards parents who decide to not vaccinate their child AND thus endanger my child.
I think you are a little unique since your child had a reaction to the flu shot. I think you need to ask the doctor for detailed info regarding her shot history to see if there is some one ingredient that she might be sensitive to, and then find out if it would be helpful to break-up the shot to avoid that ingredient or to look for an alternative manuffacturer. That could help you make a decision about the when. But I highty encourage you to do it.
I will end by saying that I do think that we need to learn more about vaccinations, but not for the same reason as some in the autism community. I do not believe there is a obvious link to autism due to the mercury. And I think the focus on that just takes important research dollars away from other potential factors. However, to avoid the mercury, pharmacutical companies are substituting all sorts of preservatives which we know nothing about. Part of me wonders if time will tell and the mercury will turn out to have been the safest ingredient.
I don't believe in blindly folliowing a doctor, but I do believe in science, and the science suggests that vaccinations save children form traumatic and often fatal disease.
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L.R. answers from Washington DC on June 22, 2009
Most vaccines, including MMR, no longer contain any thimerosol (mercury derivative) and have not contained it for some years now. And the doctor who began the whole vaccines-and-autism scare was a British doctor who did a supposed study of a mere handful of kids, and got himself a lot of promotion and press coverage from it. He and his study have since been discredited by subsequent research. He moved to the US because he was so discredited in Britain and last I heard was under investigation here for practicing medicine without a US license. Also note that in Britain there has been a rise in measles cases since this discredited study made headlines, and doctors there are worried that measles -- which can be fatal -- is making a comeback in the population because many parents didn't vaccinate, based on this doctor's flawed study. Ask your pediatrician what he or she recommends and you'll probably find he or she advises vaccinating, whether it's in one shot or several. If you're still worried, ask your doctor for solid information about scientific studies of any links, or lack of links, between MMR and autism.
T.G. answers from Washington DC on June 22, 2009
I understand your anxiety about this - we felt the same way. The preservative Thimerosal is what is being blamed for the possible link to autism. With the controversy, there has been less use of it in the vaccines. You can google the FDA website and look for their information on Thimerosal. The MMR vaccine is not the only one that has used it. They have a table that shows all of the vaccines by the different pharmaceuticals and if or what the levels of the preservative are. We did our research and we ask exactly which vaccine they are using before letting them administer it to our son. With the flu shot (yes, some of them have Thimerosal too), I even looked at the actual vial before they game him the shot.
Listen to your gut. You know what is best for your daughter and there are options out there. Just do your research and make the decision with your husband that you feel is best. Good luck!
M.B. answers from Washington DC on June 22, 2009
I encourage you to be FULLY informed before making your decision. As someone stated, this is a heated topic and people on both sides will tell you what to do. There is a lot of information on the web and a lot of books, I would check them out. I think that every mother has a right to make the decision for what they think is best for their child. I would also encourage you to listen to your own thoughts and feelings as you research the topic. Mothers have been given a special "extra sense", if you will, regarding their children. I have chosen not to vaccinate, but would support any decision as long as the person is fully informed and they feel that what they are doing is best for the health and well-being of their child.
Y.L. answers from Richmond on June 22, 2009
If she's not going to day care you can delay it till 18 months or even 2 years old. The fact that she got a rash after the flu shot should have raised a red flag in terms of an egg allergy to your doctor because the flu vaccine contains eggs and so does the MMR. You should discuss that with your pediatrician and testing her for an egg allergy with a pediatric allergist and if she is, the vaccine should be delayed as long as possible and she should receive it at the allergist's office rather than at the regular pediatrician. But you can definitely delay it!
J.W. answers from Richmond on June 22, 2009
We've held off, too, by our choice and Dr.'s complete agreement in our case b/c of my son's medical history & my family's medical history. We're waiting until 3.
And you can no longer get the MMR broken down the in US. The best you can do is get a 'script from your Dr. and head to Canada to buy the 3 vaccines....
I complete understand your position. It's not about being anti-vaccine; it's about understanding that the CDC schedule isn't One-Size fits all (and yes, it does certainly fit a lot) and let's continue to check the safety of ALL our vaccines (Gardasil for our teen daughters, I'm looking at you).
M.B. answers from Richmond on June 22, 2009
i can understand your hesitation with all the controversy surrounding this particular vaccine. from personal experience and a professional in the field of autism i am dreading the day that i have to make this decision for my 9 mo old son. the key factor in the mmr vaccine is to ensure that there is no mercury (thymerisol) in the shot. that's the big deal about the controversy because that is what many people feel is the cause of problems related to autism. because of all the debates and such surrounding the vaccines and the increase in diagnosis of autism there was a move to get all the mercury out of the vaccines. for the most part there are trace amounts in them still but many of the doctors offices do use no mercury-based. my brother was one, that after the vaccine we started to see differences with him. it took us years to get an actual diagnosis of autism after that my mom decided to separate the mmr vaccine into 3 shots for my sister. many studies have gone on about genetics and it seems from all the info out there that that is a likely factor as well. the facts though are that males are more likely to get autism than females. IF splitting up the shot into 3 is an option i would suggest that. my doctor told me that they don't really do that anymore when i talked to him months ago about my concerns with my son. i say that since you've mentioned she's already had a reaction to a different shot. most doctors will probably tell you it's ok to go through with all 3 in 1. that's a decision only you can make but be sure that you express your concerns with your pediatrician and that they understand your reasons. good luck with everything. if you're still uncomfortable with a decision ask for some resources for research on both sides of the fence. people are VERY outspoken and strong willed on both sides when it comes to this debate. sorry i couldn't be of more help but that's just my experience with it.
also on to what zoe b said. dr. sears book is wonderful for giving good information about the vaccines. i read this while i was pregnant and i have also been giving my son one shot each visit and delay them. he's done very well thus far but as i said i still have a few months before i have to decide about the mmr as well.