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I'm the oldest of three girls and when my younger sisters were in high school, the Gardasil vaccine became available—and that's when I began questing vaccines. It was the fancy new thing and my mom quickly scheduled appointments for my sisters to get the required rounds before sending them off to college. Of course she did, good parents vaccinate their children according to the CDC schedule, right?
Frequently, the CDC evaluates the recommended schedule and encourages parents to "protect [their] children … before they are exposed to life-threatening diseases". Many parents trust the CDC point blank. The CDC knows what's best, does their research and is independent from the pharmaceutical industry who financially benefits when new vaccines hit the market and become "recommended." We can trust the CDC, can't we?
I know that sounds strong to question the CDC's schedule and intentions. I don't hate the CDC, I promise. I believe they are well-intentioned. I also believe they function in a complicated position of protecting children and protecting assets.
Take the Gardasil vaccine that so quickly became available. This particular vaccine has been accused of being fast tracked and marketed with fear mongering. All the while, testimonies of unfortunate outcomes continue to rise. Yet, Gardasil is still recommended, still encouraged as being "safe and effective".
I've read too many studies disproving the promises of Gardasil and the bottom line is that you risk the adverse side effects of the vaccine or choose to build a strong immune system and be smart about sexual contact. It shakes down to almost equal effectiveness. But encouraging good health and wise sexual practices makes no one money. Gardasil makes millions.
I so wish we could blindly trust the CDC's vaccine schedule. But the reality is, we can't. Times have changed and money leads too many decisions within the leadership of our country.
But, Gardasil is a newbie so I'm guessing a lot of pro-vaccine folks opt to skip this vaccine often enough. But what about the regulars? MMR, Hep B, DTaP… have you questioned those? Do they perhaps have similar stories as Gardasil? Do you know the risks, have you read the vaccine inserts? We read ingredients in the foods we feed our children every day, but do we take the time to really know what's going into their bodies when we choose to vaccinate them?
A brief glance at the history of the recommended vaccine schedule raises enough questions for me to often fall into the anti-vaxxer camp. In 1953 and the surrounding years when my parents were being vaccinated, there were 16 doses of 4 vaccines recommended before the age of 6. When I was a child in the 80's, there were 23 doses of 7 vaccines recommended. Today, my children are supposed to receive 49 doses of 14 vaccines before the age of 6.
Does this alarm you? From your perspective do you feel like the children of the 50's and 80's were healthier than our super vaccinated children today? Has our population become healthier as the amount of vaccination have increased?
Although there are many statistics, studies and testimonials that lead me to question vaccines, I do not identify as an anti-vaxxer. Vaccinations have their place. They often aid in saving lives and are a monumental part of our country's health history. But I'm not pro-vaccine either.
I so wish we could blindly trust the CDC's vaccine schedule. But the reality is, we can't. Times have changed and money leads too many decisions within the leadership of our country. It's time we as parents take responsibility for our children's health. It's my job to research potential diseases my children may encounter and the recommended vaccinations we have access to. It's not my doctor's or the CDC's role to make these decisions for me.
It's not your job either.
You have your own kids to worry about. And they're different from mine, our situations are unique and thus, our health decisions should be too.
Rather than boldly be in favor of all vaccines or negate the value of every last one, I find myself studying like I've never studied before. The never-ending school of parenting has led me to become pro-research when it comes to vaccinations. That's what I am: I'm pro-research on the topic of vaccinations. I want evidence-based studies, I want the current schedule re-evaluated and I want resources and support (outside of vaccines) to keep my children healthy before a life-threatening disease strikes.