It was the morning of October 2, 2007, two days after my son, Izaiah, was born. I was lying in my hospital bed. Izaiah was lying beside me in his plastic see-through crib. And, there the nurse stood with a pen and clipboard at the foot of the bed, spouting out a series of questions – a to-do list of last minute consultations and examinations needed before Izaiah and I could be discharged later that evening.
To her, it was simply routine. She would ask a question. I would answer. She would make a down-and-up check motion with the pen onto the clipboard.
The Q & A lasted for about five minutes.
“Did you sign the birth certificate?”
“Did the lactation nurse come by to see you?”
“Do you have any questions or concerns about the baby?”
“The pediatrician will be in one last time to take a look at him. Would you like for the doctor to go ahead and give him his first Hepatitis B shot?”
I thought it was odd that a two-day-old child would need a Hep shot. I remember trying to quickly shuffle my brain and remember if my daughter, McKenzie, received one when she was born. Not being able to recall, I then reminded myself that I was in a new state, and every state has its own set of rules. Plus, it had been nearly five years since I’d had McKenzie– things change. Furthermore, I had a brand spanking new baby. Why wouldn’t I vaccinate him? For goodness sake, I didn’t want my child to get sick!
“Uhhh… sure,” I replied.
Fast forwarding to two months later… I was in the pediatrician’s office for Izaiah’s first Well-Baby exam. After checking his vitals, the nurse then informed me that he would be receiving four more shots (plus some kind of oral medicine) as part of his first round of vaccinations.
“Are you telling me you’re going to have to stick my son FOUR times? He’s only two-months-old! He can’t handle that!” I said.
She replied, “That’s the dosage mandated by state law.”
As I sat listening to my son screaming to the point where his mouth was still open, but nothing was coming out – the entire time his confused eyes searching my face for any sign of relief, but to no avail – I felt my heart breaking into a million pieces.
After the nurse finished and I finally got Izaiah calmed down, I asked her how many shots would he need at his next visit. She said six!
I was livid.
But, it was something I had to do, right? Again, I didn’t want my baby to get sick. Isn’t it my job to protect him? (At this point, I should probably note that from that moment on I refused to take Izaiah back to the doctor’s office for his shots. Till this day, all his doctor’s appointments are handled by his father.)
Still not able to get the horrible scene out of my head, for weeks it seemed as if everywhere I turned the subject kept coming up. From the news to magazine covers, I just kept hearing and reading the same words: “childhood vaccinations… immunizations… newborn screenings.” And, all too often the words were coupled with one other word: “autism.” After hearing it so many times, I eventually started to pay attention.
I did a bit of research and found out that 1 out of every 150 people are diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls.
I also found that many parents of autistic children believe their child developed the disorder from vaccines required by most states.
I immediately went on guard, watching Izaiah’s every move, checking his habits against an assortment of milestone charts I found in baby books and online. “Is he walking?… Why isn’t he talking yet?… Hmmm, that other kid looks bigger!… Wasn’t McKenzie crawling by now?”
I still do it.
Just recently I came across a Huffington Post article written by actor/comedian Jim Carrey (Let me just note that I’ve never been a huge fan of Carrey’s. I used to always joke that I didn’t think the man could be serious if his life depended on it. Turns out, he can). As many of you might already know, Carrey is dating actress/comedienne Jenny McCarthy. McCarthy’s son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism at two-and-a-half-years-old. Both McCarthy and Carrey are strong advocates and supporters of research and treatments for the disorder. They, too, believe there is a direct link between autism and childhood vaccines.
In his article, Carrey writes:
“The anecdotal evidence of millions of parents who’ve seen their totally normal kids regress into sickness and mental isolation after a trip to the pediatrician’s office must be seriously considered. The legitimate concern they and many in the scientific community have that environmental toxins, including those found in vaccines, may be causing autism and other disorders (Aspergers, ADD, ADHD), cannot be dissuaded by a show of sympathy and a friendly invitation to look for the ‘real’ cause of autism anywhere but within the lucrative vaccine program.
“In a world left reeling from the catastrophic effects of greed, mismanagement and corporate insensitivity, is it so absurd for us to wonder why American children are being given twice as many vaccines on average, compared to the top 30 first world countries?
“With all the doubt that’s left hanging on this topic, how can anyone in the media or medical profession, boldly demand that all parents march out and give their kids 36 of these shots, six at a time in dosage levels equal to that given a 200 pound man?”
Carrey demands U.S. leaders take a hard look at each of the required vaccines, seriously consider which ones are actually necessary and how much, as well as make them green – free from toxins like aluminum, mercury, ether, formaldehyde and anti-freeze.
While, I am no expert on autism, nor do I have the slightest clue about vaccines and what’s in them– I am a mother. And as a mother, I have to say I am concerned. I am concerned by the sheer number of vaccines our children must receive, the dosage, as well as the safeness of such medications.
While I have not seen any cause for alarm in my son – who is current on all his immunizations – I can’t help but wonder… “Should I opt out of vaccinating my children?”
Everybody and their mother is talking about “going green” as if its the latest trend on some fashion runway (In some cases, it is. Even so, I think it’s becoming somewhat commercialized and more of the “in” thing to do and say, rather than actually trying to save the environment. But anyway, that’s for a later post). If there is, in fact, a way to make our drugs safer, shouldn’t lawmakers at least consider it?
At this time, the research is inconclusive. And, so am I.
However, if you are a parent or soon-to-be parent of small children, I encourage you to read Carrey’s full article.
I’d also love to know what you think…