Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vaccines, choice, insurance and parenting

In the past few weeks we've seen a few 'hits' to a parents' choice to inject or not inject a child with vaccines. First we had the additional discredit to the MMR and Autism link via the shellacking of Dr. Andrew Wakefield. What few people realize about the anti- or tentative- vaxing parents is that this does little to our fight/plight of vaccine decision making.

But, then, we have the CNN article indicating that parents who are anti-vaccine should pay higher insurance premiums. Insurance is about risk. But there are risks associated with vaccines, one of which in the news lately is seizures.

To insurance companies risk is with the parent who decides to not vaccinate on schedule. To parents it might be the risk of issues associated with vaccines to an otherwise healthy child. To others it might be being overweight, smoking or not breastfeeding. Perhaps a pediatrician should write a CNN article about the financial risks of not breastfeeding a child?

The risks of vaccinating? Always debunked? Always not true? Now in the news are seizures in infants/children after a specific flu vaccine.

This is something that for years many have seen with DTP vaccine as well as MMR. Since NIH has indicated no long-term effects, we continue to have these shots recommended. However, other countries' health boards have indicated all seizures are risky so we have to determine which risk is more risky and then allow the bean counters to determine which one is more costly, resulting in higher insurance cost.

Minor encephalitis is a common side effect that many children have to DTP vaccine. We were told to "expect" this when we had our delayed vaccine visit for our daughter - guess what, her crying for hours on end is a "minor" side effect of the vaccine. What we didn't know/realize at the time is what exactly was causing the crying/screaming that couldn't be consoled. We teetered back and forth on doing the same for our son and we did do one for him as well, he didn't scream, but before every visit to the pediatrician I wonder what to do - risk the diseases or risk the potential side effects of the shots.

And then we throw in the missing/dead scientists/microbiologists/chemists who study environment (including vaccines) and disease in the pool and then we have a few more reasons to question what real risk is....

So those are the reasons I am willing, and happily able to at this point, pay more if necessary to delay/select the vaccines for my children. Since insurance companies define risk in this instance, those who define risk in another way will be penalized. Hopefully those who will be penalized have the means to pay the difference

Perhaps I need a disclaimer at play dates that indicates that my child is not fully vaccinated, so come to play at your own risk.

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