Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'll never complain about...

taking my kids to get vaccinations again!  I can't tell you how many times I hear people whining about how terrible it was to have their baby get pricked 3 times at 6 months and how everyone cried.  I complained about it all the time!  I got teary at Ashlynn's 6 months shots because her poor little red screaming face was heartbreaking.  And then the shots repeat at 1 year, 2 years, 4 years!  Addie's shots at 4 were terrible!

Never again.  I will not cry and I will not complain.  In fact I think I might be happy and thank the nurse for her swift injection that will save my child the pain of rabies, measles, rotavirus, even chicken pox!

Eneye's three year old daughter, Tutu, has tetanus.  As in lock jaw, bloody diarrhea, muscle spasms, neurotoxins in her blood stream creating nerve damage in all her muscles.  Tetanus.  As in less than 50 cases of tetanus are reported in the U.S. every year.  Tetanus.  As in if a pediatric case was in the States, the child would be monitored in the ICU for weeks for organ function and blood toxin levels.  It's very serious and can be fatal if not treated swiftly and monitored properly.  Tutu cut her toe at school a few weeks ago.  She wasn't vaccinated and soon her parents noticed the infected toe, high fever, swollen throat and locked jaw.  She's getting 7 tetanus shots now in a sequence to try to get the antibodies to fight the toxins in her blood.  She's not in the ICU.  No one is monitoring her organ function.  There is no ICU here.

Have YOU ever worried about tetanus in your kids?  Not likely because starting at 2 months old my kids (and most likely yours) had a DTaP vaccination.  Then again at 4, 6, 15 months and a booster again at 4 years.  We (everyone living in a country that routinely vaccinates for almost everything) take immunizations for granted.   We complain about them and dread the appointments when our beloved child has to get pricked.  We call ahead to make sure we can get the more experienced nurse to administer the shots. We schedule the appointment so Dad can come too to offer fatherly comfort (and hold her down-just me?) We make jokes with the nurses about how the child comes to despise the sight of her coming in the exam room with her tray of needles and bandAids.  We breath a sigh of relief when the shots are done.  We offer hugs and lolly pops to comfort the child.  We thank our lucky stars we have so many months or years before the next round is due to worry about!
CDC recommended immunization schedule
I have never breathed a sigh of grateful relief that my child will never have to face polio, mumps, Hepatitis or tetanus after an immunization appointment.   I have never even considered what it would mean if my children didn't receive all the immunizations they do.  I've been blissfully naive to the idea that if my kid didn't get a certain vaccination she could actually contract something serious.  Serious enough to changer her life or even kill her. Our kids are the lucky ones.  So many children don't even have the option to receive vaccinations.  All over the world kids are suffering from polio, hepatitis, and tetanus.  Things that could be avoided with a simple prick.

I'm extremely worried about Tutu.  I'm praying she is getting the best care from her doctor and that she recovers fully even if it takes some time.  I am trying to explain to her mother that if a vaccination is available to her she NEEDS to have it administered to her daughter.  I'm trying to explain what neurotoxins are.  Eneye thinks Tutu has another infection like the last cold. I see the contained worry in her eyes. It's so hard.

I will never complain about my child's immunization schedule again!  I am suddenly very grateful for it.


Connie said...

I believe in vaccinations. I was in the clinic this very morning, and temporarily locked the place down ... why? Because I'm covered in spots and there's been a measles outbreak. Seriously. Turns out that I have a drug allergy and I'm fine. But measles, yea... there's no excuse for that.

I understand that some people worry about all those vax meds attacking their kids' tiny little selves all at once, so, ok, space out the injections. One a week, or one every month. My kids' doctors had NO problem at all doing this. It just meant more trips, but my kids are worth that to me. It amazes me that parents will look at a choice between NOT vaccinating their beloved child, because unschooled lay-people spread unproven rumors about a slight possibility of a rare complication, OR, vaccinating them with very effective vaccines that will protect them against diseases that are irrefutably DEADLY and highly contagious. And it's not just a personal risk... unvax'ed children expose other peoples' kids, including those very vulnerable ones who CANNOT be vaccinated for real reasons, to serious diseases. For example, MMRV is highly effective, but there is still about a 1-2% chance of infection, and so even kids in vaccinated populations will, rarely, get the disease when exposed. (which is why the clinic had me and everyone in masks this morning!)

Watching your baby get injected with a scary medicine is scary. They do have known, rare, side effects. I know this. But it's much better than what parents had to do back in the old days... what do I mean? Just read the obits in old newspaper archives. (we're doing a lot of genealogy research, and those old papers are sad!)

And it's much better than what poor little Tutu, and her family, is going through right now. :( I am so sorry to hear this and hope and pray she recovers quickly and completely!

Spectrummy Mummy said...

I'm definitely a pro-vacciner, and as the parent of an autistic child, horrified by the ongoing (discredited) movement to discourage parents from vaccinating their children. Perhaps if we saw up close some of these terrible diseases that the developing world still faces, people would think twice. Vaccines are incredibly cheap, what a sad state of affairs that children are still suffering diseases that should have been left in the middle ages.

A said...

My middle child has a serious egg allergy and for years no one would give him his second MMR. Certainly no one in the State department. I had people tell me all the time there was no need - every one else is vaccinated. Finally our beloved PNP decided to just do it. I have to admit it was the finest bit unnerving when I pulled up for the appointment and the volunteer Rescue Squad was parked outside...which they had gone ahead and called to be there 'just in case' it all went off without any drama - just ME almost fainting.
Vaccines are so important!

Sara said...

Thanks for the comments and great discussion points! I was nervous about immunizations with my first child. I remember asking about the risks and it pained me so much to see her in pain. With each kid and each set of shots it got easier. I think the thing that has me thinking the most is that I know very little about all the diseases that the immunizations are preventing. I've never given a thought to tetanus or Hep or any of the others.

I have to agree with Spectummy Mummy about how horrifying it is that some parents, communities even are choosing to not immunize. I imagine all the hard working doctors and scientists that gave their time, money and effort to develop the vaccines are throwing up a little in their mouth about the idea of CHOOSING not to vaccinate when one is available. Just crazy!

Love A's story about her middle child and the second MMR. So glad you pushed and all worked out.

Daniela Swider said...

When I was a baby, there was no MMR vaccine in Bulgaria and my Mom says I had all three measles, mumps and rubella. The rubella was the worst of the three by far and my Mom says I almost died at 10 months because of it. She would have much rather vaccinated me than have to watch me lie on a table in the ER half-dead. Of course, she's incredibly grateful that I ultimately recovered but still says it was one of the scariest things she's ever had to go through in her life. So yeah, I vaccinate my children because I don't want to have to put them through such an experience.

Becky said...

Sara I think you make a good point there about most people not realizing what exactly they are vaccinating against. Maybe we need better public health education about what these diseases are, what the vaccines do for everyone (high and low risk populations), and the cost/benefit of them.

Becky said...

Wow Daniela, that's scary! I'm glad you made it out okay.

Heather P. said...

Wow, that sure puts things into perspective. Praying for Tutu's full and healthy recovery.

Just US said...

I have always second-guessed myself about vaccinations and five kids later I still find myself doing just that with every shot they receive. My second son came down with a virus that I unknowingly brought home when teaching and he spent 11 days in the hospital. Thankfully he only had surgery on his hand and it wasn't amputated (which the doctors told me it would be). They thought at the time that he caught the virus because that particular vaccine he hadn't finished receiving a complete dose yet. He was too little. I know as a mother how scary having a sick child can be. Tutu will be in our prayers and I sure hope she has a full and speedy recovery!

Sunny said...


This is a blog from a friend of a friend who's baby died of pertussis, a totally preventable disease if people got their vaccines. In the U.S. this is totally inexcusable. Love this post Sara.