The following information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
Despite many studies debunking the myth of a link between the MMR vaccine and the onset of autism, many Circle of Moms members say that deciding what to do is hard because of all the conflicting information and opinions about vaccines that parents are exposed to. "When it comes down to it, neither side...has all the answers," says Jolene R., who has chosen not to vaccinate her child even though, as she says, "I understand why other people do." Even the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) admits that while "A great deal of information about vaccinations is available to parents...information is sometimes published that is inaccurate or can be misleading when taken out of context."
90% of parents follow the recommended vaccination schedules for young children, but among the 10% who don't are those who say they are reacting to confusing information by opting for alternative schedules. These alternative schedules vary: some parents get all the recommended shots but start a little later or proceed on a slower schedule, while others refuse vaccines altogether.
Concerned by how these choices are impacting public health, researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor recently warned that as more parents refuse vaccines, the risk that a child will catch a disease like measles or whooping cough at school or in their community is rising.
But Circle of Moms members who follow alternative vaccination schedules insist they have valid reasons for doing so. While few of these moms cite the specific concern that a vaccine will lead to autism, a fear that was more widespread a few years ago, many are worried about other possible side effects, and whether they are significant or lasting. These fears surface in many communities on Circle of Moms. As Taylor O. relays in just one of these threads, what is a mom to make of it when her baby reacts to her 2-month shots with a fever of 104, vomiting, and a level of misery that makes her "not herself"?
Moms Who Delay, Slow Down, or Pick & Choose
Armed with stories like Taylor's, some moms choose to delay vaccinations until after their children turn one. "I am not a fan of vaccines for babies," says Laura M. "Babies do not have an established immune system and for us to bombard them with toxins before their immune system has had a chance to get established is dangerous. Just my opinion of course." (The Centers for Disease Control disagrees, stating that "Studies show that kid's bodies—even infants—can handle many shots at once. Having several vaccines at once is safe, even for a newborn.")
Other Circle of Moms are getting their kids all of the recommended vaccinations but at a slower-than-recommended pace. As Michelle H. explains, "My daughter didn't get any vaccines until she was 3 months old. Then I only wanted her to have two at a time (not the five or six that they usually give). I had to do a lot of research to figure out which two would be the most beneficial, without the all the terrible possible side effects. She was up to date on all her vaccines, except Hepatitis B, by the time she turned two. I did have to sign a waiver at the doctor's office saying that it would not be their fault if she died from one of the vaccines I hadn't given her. I believe that being informed and pro-active in vaccinating your child is more important than following the government's plan on shots."
Still other Circle of Moms members follow the recommended schedule with the exception of the H1N1 flu vaccine. Heather S., a mom of two boys, "won't get them H1N1 because a lot of people aren't sure about it." Circle of Moms member Anne is also on the fence about H1N1: "A doctor I trust a lot tells me the vaccine is safe and recommended the shot, but was not really pushy and was okay with us skipping it for now." And Danielle B. wonders, given mixed reviews about the vaccine's success at averting flu, whether "it is safer to vaccinate my children or to ride the season out."
Talking to Your Doctor
No matter what schedule you follow, many say the decisions are tough because of mixed opinions and confusing information that continue to abound. Ultimately though, despite their hesitancy or concerns, Circle of Moms members like Shanna B. say they feel safest following their pediatrician's recommendations. "I debated over this also but finally decided to get my kids vaccinated," she says. "I kept hearing about kids dying and I know you can't save them from everything, but I thought something so simple that could save them seemed worth it."
For answers to questions about vaccines, visit the CDC's FAQ for parents who question vaccines, where they detail the side effects of each vaccine and provide a guide to evaluating online information about vaccines.
Do you follow the recommended vaccine schedule? Why or why not?
The preceding information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.