In honor of National Infant Immunization Week, one of our own moms, Heather Duge, shares her story about considering modified immunizations for her baby, EllieKate, and ultimately what led her to choose the vaccine schedule her baby’s doctor recommended.
This year’s measles outbreak, the largest one in 18 years, reminds me of the epidemic last year during my ninth month of pregnancy. Except it was a different disease – pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough.
In September 2013, 130 patients at Children’s had been diagnosed with whooping cough, and Texas was on track to reach the highest amount of cases since 1950.
I remember thinking I would do anything to keep my baby from suffering the potentially devastating effects of whooping cough such as respiratory failure and death. The most important precaution, getting her vaccinated, is one I had questioned earlier on in my pregnancy.
Vaccine Risks Versus Benefits
My husband, Richard, and I consulted with EllieKate’s pediatrician, Roger Schorlemer, M.D., when I was five months pregnant. After researching the risks versus the benefits of vaccines, we definitely wanted to immunize at some point, but we were considering a delayed or modified schedule.
Dr. Schorlemer addressed our concerns of various reactions to the vaccines and explained that research studies demonstrate the value of vaccines to diminish illnesses that have a greater degree of morbidity and mortality. He has seen it firsthand in his practice with the Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (Hib), which prevents meningitis and other serious and potentially fatal infections caused by the bacteria.
“The Hib vaccine has markedly reduced the incidence of this disease,” says Dr. Schorlemer. “We would see children with manifestations of infection from the disease, and since the vaccine has been used, it has almost vanished.”
Infant Vaccine Schedule
We were also worried about the multitude of shots in a small time frame, especially at such a young age. But after hearing that newborns are the most susceptible to these vaccine-preventable diseases and not receiving all the immunizations on time could result
in serious problems and even death, our decision no longer seemed complicated. It was clear that we needed to stick with the recommended vaccine schedule.
EllieKate has received three rounds of immunizations so far, and we are thankful she is protected. But if every child isn’t immunized, we could continue to see epidemics if these serious diseases make a comeback.
Vaccines and the Autism Debate
Some parents don’t let their child get the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine because of autism concerns. But that choice can lead to much more than a bumpy, red rash. Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, can occur, according to Jeffrey Kahn, M.D., Director of Infectious Disease at Children’s.
“There is no scientific or medical evidence that supports vaccines causing autism,” Dr. Kahn says. “At least 14 studies have definitely demonstrated no causal link.”