One of my biggest concerns before having my first baby was vaccinations. It’s an important one to think about before your baby makes their grand debut because the doctor will start trying to poke your kid with a needle pretty much immediately after birth; so understanding what’s happening is important. There is so much debate out there in the cyber-world about the safety and necessity of different vaccines that I (of course) decided I needed more information.
So before I had my daughter, I decided to forgo internet research at first, and instead went to a class called “All About Vaccines.” This was offered by a local center for expecting and new parents, and was taught by a Bay Area pediatrician. He did a lot to ease my mind about what each vaccine protected against, why it is important, and side effects it may have. He also dispelled rumors about a link between autism and vaccines — there is no causal relationship between the two. (There was also a recent review of studies done in the area confirming that there is no link between the two. Check out the Huffington Post’s article about that here). I highly recommend finding out if any classes like this are available in your area, if you have concerns.
The class eased my mind, but I still wanted to do a little more research about vaccines in general. Here are some of the helpful resources I found:
PBS Frontline has an episode on the issue called “The Vaccine War” (which can be seen here, or is available through Netflix streaming). I highly recommend my currently pregnant, or soon-to-be, friends watch this to get a better understanding of the truths and misconceptions surrounding vaccines.
Via the web:
- Center for Disease Control’s For Parents: Vaccines for Your Children homepage
- Federal site on all things vaccines: Vaccines.gov
- The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, one of the oldest medical societies in the United States, has created a informational, educational website called The History of Vaccines. This is the link to the “parent” section, that has many helpful articles and activities.
- For some peer-reviewed articles discussing current scientific research around vaccines and autism, check out the Autism Science Foundations website. They have links to a few studies, including Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses by Jeffrey S. Gerber, and Paul A. Offit. (Published in final edited form as: Clin Infect Dis. 2009 February 15; 48(4): 456–461).
Although it is overwhelming how many shots little ones receive in their first years of life (here is the CDC’s recommended Schedule of Childhood Vaccinations), I felt more informed and not as scared about them. In fact, I felt some of the shots were even more important than I first realized.
As always, do your research, then do what works best for you and your family. I know this is a hot topic issue, but being informed is a great first step in understanding how to keep your family (and the community at large) healthy and safe.
Quick Public Service Announcement!!
One thing that I think is very important is that adults who may have contact with new babies should get the Whooping Cough (pertussis) vaccine. Pertussis can be deadly to infants, and the state of California declared it an official epidemic a few years back. Because it is contracted through the air, can be spread before a person even knows they have it, and I have so many babies in my life, this is something that really concerns me.
Here is some information about the vaccine from the CDC website: