This was taken from my thoughts in a comment on my friend Morgan's blog. It's actually a topic I have meant to write on for a while...Feel free to join the conversation there or post your own thoughts here about what you do!
I always planned on vaccinating Lyddie but was pretty overwhelmed at the idea of trying to figure out which ones to do and the order/timeline to do them in. We are blessed with a GREAT ARNP who looked at my proposed schedule and recommended a few modifications in terms of the time frame and other things specific to WA state (see below).
In terms of the theory of vaccines, I knew myself well enough to know that if we went vaccine-free across the board then I would inevitably worry more than I would about the minimal risk of side effects. However, I also felt that a few changes have been made in terms of the vaccine schedule in recent years – namely they have added more vaccines and give a bunch all at once. The research I did indicated that the only reason the CDC packed so many together for each well child visit during the first year was for convenience for parents and to ensure that kids would GET the vaccine, sidestepping parents who wouldn’t follow through. I knew I would be the kind of mom that would bring my kid in every month just for a vaccine without forgetting or putting it off, so that was what I proposed. It still seems logical to me that if I’m worried about neurological effects or the possible correlation between autoimmune disorders and vaccines that I might not want to bombard my baby’s developing system with the whole list of vaccines on the CDC schedule at one time. I still shake my head when I look at the CDC recommendations. I can't ever judge anyone for following it because it is easier, faster, and if a parent isn't prone to worry about it, then that's fine! But for me, I knew I wanted to do it a little differently.
After researching WHY they recommend Hep B for infants in the hospital, we opted not to do it for the same reasons as above. Hep B used to be given much later (in fact I think I didn't get it until I was probably 12) but they apparently felt like they were missing cases so they just started doing it as a catch all in the hospital. Hep B is essentially a sexually transmitted or blood-transmitted disease and I knew my husband and I did not have Hep B. We added it into our modified vaccine schedule, as you can see below. We are not doing the HPV vaccine for the same basic reason. If she decides she wants it when she’s older, that's fine.
We won’t do the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine until she’s much older since it’s not a life threatening disease and if she gets it in childhood, that seems best to me. If she hasn’t contracted it by the time she’s in late childhood, we’ll do the vaccine since chicken pox is so much worse in teens and adults. It’s probable we will need to, since the vaccine is decreasing her chances of getting it naturally. That’s fine with me, I’m flexible.
Initially I was going to do just one vaccine every month but changed it a little based on my doc’s recommendations. It’s still slower than the CDC recommendations which were way too much for my comfort level.
Other things that I discovered on the way: some states, like our home state of WA, bundles a bunch of vaccines into one dose, so we couldn’t split some up like I wanted. It is impossible without traveling to another state (not an option for me) to get the Dtap vaccine separately; here it’s bundled into one called “pentacel” – Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), IPV (polio), and Hib (haemophilus influenzae B). So those months I definitely only did that one vaccine since I felt like it was already like giving her 5 vaccines. Basically the CDC recommends adding three more vaccines that first 2 month visit. Which is fine if others are comfortable doing that, but I felt like exposing her system to 8 different diseases was too much for me.
Here’s what we chose to do and it’s working out great for us. It’s easy to just call the morning of the day we want to stop in for a vaccine and we just walk in and are in and out quickly.
2 months: Pentacel (Dtap, IPV, Hib)
3 months: PCV (pneumococcal) and RV (rotavirus)
4 months: Pentacel (dose 2)
5 months: PCV and RV (dose 2)
6 months: Pentacel (dose 3)
7 months: PCV and RV (dose 3)
8 months: Hep B (dose 1)
10 months: Hep B (dose 2)
12 months: MMR (we also did a flu vaccine at this visit)
13 months: Hep B (dose 3) and second flu dose
14 months: PCV (dose 4)
15 months: Hep A (dose 1)
19 months: Pentacel (I think – I will need to double check this, but based on the CDC recommendations, there is a final vaccine left for the Dtap and IPV but I’m not sure how they usually do that one…)
21 months: Hep A (dose 2)
4-6 years: boosters of Dtap and IPV, and MMR
I actually stopped planning once I got the initial set of recommended vaccines figured out because I decided I would deal with them later once I had gotten through the first two years…
One other thought: we didn't worry too much about making sure the school district requirements were met since we’re planning to homeschool, but that would be one other factor to check into for each state’s dept. of health. I think we ended up meeting the time frame anyway without trying.
I encourage everyone to feel COMFORTABLE requesting to slow down the vaccine schedule if you’re concerned about it. There is no reason why doctors can’t let you do that – the pediatrician isn’t even the one to administer the vaccine so it doesn’t even affect them in any logical way, and if your child isn’t frequently being exposed to these dangerous illnesses, then the risks are so low to putting them off a little. I may have approached this differently if Lyddie was going to be in daycare, but we didn't even really put her in the church nursery on Sundays until she was around 8 months.
I’m so pleased with the way things are working out and am planning on repeating this same schedule with our #2 who will arrive next May. It was worth all the research because I do feel a lot more peaceful about it and that first year is stressful enough – anything to keep sanity helps!