by Healthy Child
Healthy Child Healthy World doesn't typically address the vaccination debate, but we know it's important to our audience of parents. And, it's become especially important with the pandemic spread of the H1N1 virus. Parents are scared and we want to help.
We don't have a recommendation for whether you should vaccinate or not, but we do believe you should have easy access to expert insights that can help you make an informed decision. Here are four perspectives you should take into consideration.
Dr. Sears' position on the issue is emblematic of the entire discussion. He states that in general, he doesn't "have a recommendation one way or another." He acknowledges H1N1 to be a serious illness that is potentially life-threatening, noting that “seasonal flu in the U.S. causes about 20 infant and 100 total pediatric deaths each year. The swine flu has so far caused 112 pediatric deaths." In light of the 36,000 Americans who die of the flu every year, he believes that "the shot helps protect against the flu and lowers this risk." But he also acknowledges the risk inherent, stating that "there hasn't been a lot of research on safety and efficacy of flu shots."
Though that fact is less than a comfort to both patients and physicians, Dr. Sears doesn't "see any reason to doubt that our immune systems won't respond to this vaccine the same way they respond to regular flu shots." He also covers potential side effects, which he doesn't predict to be any different from those experienced from regular flu shots.
So what really concerns Dr. Sears then?
"What I DO worry about is that infants will be getting FOUR (count them, FOUR) flu vaccines this year -- two doses of the regular one, and two doses of the swine flu vaccine. That's unprecedented. We've never given anyone four doses of a flu vaccine in one year.
There is no way to predict what the side effects might be." His other major concern is that despite a complete lack of testing to determine if there is any harm to fetuses or young babies, both the regular flu and H1N1 vaccines are recommended unequivocally for pregnant and nursing mothers.
He advises getting the shots alone, as far apart as you can from any other shots. And he urges parents "to delay any vaccines for diseases that don't pose an immediate danger to a baby's or child's life and catch up on those vaccines in February or March, a couple months after finishing the flu vaccines." Consult your physician for which diseases pose an immediate risk and which can be delayed.
Dr. Gordon seeks to quell the widespread alarm about H1N1 and discourage a knee-jerk impulse to vaccinate. He advises that winter flues are unavoidable, and integral to strengthening proper long-term immunity. "Children, in particular," he says, "must suffer through a lot of winter illnesses because their immune systems are so inexperienced. New viruses get more people sick than older ones and this year the H1N1 virus is the newest common infection."
Dr. Gordon believes the media are responsible for creating more anxiety about winter illness than at any time in recent memory. They are taking advantage of this situation to drive up TV viewership, increase web page visits, and sell more newspapers, he says, citing the SARS scare, the Bird Flu scare, and the West Nile Virus scare as examples.