Babies Get 24 Vaccines in 24 Months? No Wonder They Don’t Like Needles
Watching your infant receive their first vaccine is one true instance when you can believe it hurts you almost as much as it hurts them. Of course not literally, but it’s one of the first times we realize that something we’re doing for their own good is the cause of their pain. And there are just so many instances of this to experience with them. In their first two years, they’re vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, chickenpox, meningitis and pneumonia, and many of these require more than one injection over time. Many parents question if this is necessary and worry that it can be harmful to their children. But this schedule is safe, according to a new report by the National Vaccine Program Office of the Health and Human Services Department.
That doesn’t mean parents won’t disagree. Some refuse to have their children vaccinated at all as they worry about the potential side effects. There have been debates about whether or not these vaccines can lead to autism. I spent unnecessary time when my youngest was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age seven worrying that if only I had resisted the hepatitis B vaccine when she was an infant than perhaps I could have prevented her diagnosis. I did enough research to eventually believe that was not the case, but I suffered guilt until then. If I had it to do over, I would have at least asked if vaccines could have been spaced out more.
But the study gives compelling reasons why, while it may seem that the vaccine schedule is a crowded one, there are sound medical reasons to adhere to it. It is based on when a child becomes vulnerable to infections, as well as when their immune system is developed enough to handle the vaccines. The study further says that delaying or refusing vaccinations can cause harm not only to the child not fully vaccinated, but also to those around them. This became very evident in 2011 when the incidence of whooping cough–a totally preventable disease–increased significantly in the United States. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the US is having one of the worst outbreaks of whooping cough in 50 years and that 18 people, mostly very young babies, have died. It seems unimaginable that this is even a problem. Yet one of my staff spent nearly two months caring for her son in 2011 when he came down with whooping cough. She said it was a nightmare as he could not stop coughing. Imagine the toll it took on his body.
Whatever your opinions are about childhood vaccines, it helps to be informed. We’re fortunate to have the means to prevent our children from catching the childhood illnesses that killed so many generations ago. There are numerous other things over which we have little control as we raise our children. We have to pick our battles, and perhaps this shouldn’t be one of them.