One of the first and most important health decisions new parents have to make for their brand-new baby is this: should we vaccinate or not? If we do vaccinate, should we do them all or just some of them? On the regular, pediatrician-prescribed schedule, or a modified one? What are we more concerned about -- potential side effects from the vaccines, or the diseases the vaccines prevent?
A lot of factors go into making these decisions. Here’s an inside look at how three moms (and their husbands) each made three different decisions about if and when to vaccinate their children. One is vaccinating her children on schedule, one created her own modified vaccine schedule, and one is forgoing vaccines altogether.
My Vaccine Decision: Delayed Vaccinations
Lori Allen, 40, computer support professional, Lehigh, Utah.
What did you decide about vaccines?
I have four daughters, aged 13, 15, 18, and 20. I vaccinated my first daughter according to the standard schedule, but did a modified schedule with the younger three.
How did you make that decision? Where did you seek your information?
With my oldest daughter, the doctors told me to do the standard schedule, so that’s what I did. But watching her get her shots, I just burst into tears. She was so obviously in pain and I felt so bad as a mother, watching them take this needle and shoving it into a tiny baby thigh, and imagining a needle proportionally bigger being shoved into my thigh -- it would hurt a lot! It’s a trauma to that poor baby.
So when it came time to bring my second daughter in for her first set of shots at two months, something in me just said, “No, not yet.” And I waited, and brought her in between three and four months instead. I felt that she seemed to handle it better, didn’t spike as high of a fever, and she didn’t cry as much as my older daughter had getting vaccinated earlier.
I continued to delay each set of vaccines by a couple of months for her, and for my next two children as well. I very strongly believe in immunizations and I absolutely was going to do them, but on a delayed schedule. My last daughter didn’t have her first set until she was almost six months old. But they were all fully caught up by the time they were two. I didn’t really consult any experts -- I just trusted my instincts.
What ultimately convinced you to make the decision you did?
I exclusively breastfed all my girls, and I figured as long as I was breastfeeding, they should be protected by the immunities I was giving them, as well as taking other precautions like not letting strangers touch them or letting sick people come to the house. If I’d formula fed, I don’t know if I would have done this schedule.