Baby A got her vaccinations last week. I was warned, since they use live virus, that she might get a reaction in a week, either measles or chicken pox. Very few children, really, get the reaction, but Baby A did. The injection site swelled up and peeled, she got a rash that looked very much like chicken pox, and she ran a fever. I gave her some Tylenol, she perked right up, and in two days it was gone.
I am very pro-vaccine, having watched many unvaccinated children suffer, and have been in many arguments with other parents about vaccinating children. Some parents have berated me for “injecting my children with chemicals.” I did copious research on vaccines before vaccinating M, and decided that even if the (now debunked) autism risk was real, I’d rather have a healthy, living child then one suffering the effects of an easily preventable disease. And, having watched A have her chicken pox, I made the right choice.
I had chicken pox when I was a kid. It was ten days of itchy, horrid, fever-ridden, oatmeal-bath hell. It also resulted in my face being scarred. As a teenager, I had cosmetic surgery to remove the scar, because I was tired of people poking me and asking what it was, or trying to style my hair to cover it. I watched Baby A have two days of mild rash and fever, so light she could still eat, play and laugh, and then it was over. No oatmeal bath, no scars, and she won’t even remember.
The other thing that convinced me to vaccinate my girls is rotavirus. I had rotavirus during an outbreak in Japan. I came down with it in a restaurant in Nagoya (many apologies to my date, who I’m sure thought I left because he was boring or something. He wasn’t. I was just in serious trouble.) It started with vomiting and diarrhea, which, halfway home, became completely uncontrollable. I hereby offer my deepest apologies to every train station between Nagoya and Komaki, because I threw up on the platform of every one. By the end of the ride, I quite literally crawled home on my hands and knees, covered in fluid, accompanied by an incredibly kind woman in a fur coat who walked me home at a safe distance. I spent the next twenty four hours lying on the floor with my head in the drain, thinking I’d be dead by sunrise, and that I really wouldn’t mind. Eventually I was able to clean up (I think, don’t remember well) and stagger across the street in my pajamas and dress shoes to the convenience store, where the clerk tossed me a bag of rehydration drinks, bread, stomach medicine and bottled water, and told me to take it for free and go away.
I would not wish rotavirus on my worst enemy. When the doctor asked if I wanted my girls vaccinated for rotavirus, I jumped at the chance. I also did the same for H1N1, because I and my entire first grade classroom had that, too. (My husband would bring me food wearing a mask, a rubber apron and yellow dish gloves, hollering “Biohazard!” before dropping the tray by the door and fleeing) It was fourteen days of hell, and I had tamiflu. I can’t imagine what it was like without. That’s another thing my girls won’t have to endure. I also had an uncle who had polio as a child, and it put him in an iron lung. He says that anyone who feels vaccines are unnecessary should come talk to him about polio.
I simply don’t know why you’d risk it, especially since most feared of the side effects of the vaccines have been disproven. Watching A, I’m so glad I made the choice I did. She’s wearing her kimono, ready for a festival, not sitting in oatmeal and miserable, and that’s at least one thing in her future I can protect her from.
As a side note, as a teacher, I’ve also worked with many immune-compromised children who cannot get vaccines, and my own niece is so violently allergic to eggs that she cannot get certain vaccines. My immunized children protect my students and my niece from these horrible things as well.
A nice graphic representation: