Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Guilt and the Rotavirus Vaccine

We (I, really) decided not to have Eamon vaccinated for rotavirus. Why? I'll be honest. It was the only optional vaccine (as presented by our pediatrician, that is), and I wanted to feel like I was in control. The doctor also explained that rotovirus is something that all kids get once if not more by age three, and E wouldn't die from it. (It's a virus that causes persistent vomiting and diarrhea and is resistant to disinfectants and antibacterial soap. It's most severe in the first year of life and can result in serious dehydration.)

Fast-forward to yesterday, when I got THE VACCINE BOOK by Dr. Sears in the mail as part of an order I'd placed on Amazon. I wasn't sure what I was getting with this book, but I'd heard good things about it, and I knew I needed more information about vaccines. If only I'd known about it and read it before E was two months old.

I expected the book to be biased against vaccines, but it's not. It's very balanced, from what I can tell. I've felt overwhelmed and confused about how to research vaccines up until now. I don't trust doctors, who are always pro-vaccine, and I don't trust the anti-vaccine believers any more than the doctors. So it was a relief to find a book that was so fair and informative and clearly laid out. Each chapter is dedicated to a different vaccine, with information about the disease, how common it is, how serious, how treatable, and then it goes into the vaccine itself: ingredients, controversies (if any), side effects, reasons to get it, and reasons some people don't. Then Dr. Sears gives his two cents about how necessary the vaccination is.

Last night I read the rotavirus chapter and was dumbfounded (for some reason) to see that he had this to say: "Sure the vaccine is new and the ingredients are a little odd, and this might give some parents pause. But this vaccine should help us get rid of rotavirus. I consider this a fairly important vaccine."

I feel sick after reading this. I feel like an ignorant mother. Eamon will get rotavirus (hopefully not till he's over a year old, eeek) and he's going to be very sick, and I could have prevented it. I'm going to have to watch him suffer and know that he didn't have to and that it's my fault. This vaccine is given at two, four, and six months, so we've missed our window and there's nothing I can do. Ugh.

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