As a caregiver you have the responsibility to become fully informed by educating yourself about vaccines and understand that every vaccine is not right for every child. Mosby's Dictionary of Complementary and Alternative Medicine offers this definition of informed consent "n 1. An aspect of research in which the consent of the subject is obtained and the subject is informed of possible risks and benefits from participating in the research. 2. Consent to medical procedures/treatment given by a patient after the potential risks, hazards, and benefits of the treatment have been explained." In simple words, that’s when you go to the doctor for a non-invasive procedure; e.g. getting a wart removed, and they have you sign all this paperwork that says they warned you of all the risks involved including death. Unfortunately, most doctors don’t take the time to go over all the information regarding vaccinations. You must take it upon yourself to understand the benefits, risks, reactions and precautions of vaccinations in order to make an educated decision regarding your most prized possession, your child.
There are many benefits to vaccinations. Due to vaccinations smallpox has been eradicated and the last case of Polio in the U.S. was recorded in 1979. These are the two of the most impressive success stories of vaccinations. These are undisputable facts of how vaccinations have helped control disease in the past. Many diseases have run their course and disappeared; e.g. typhoid, yellow fever, and long before there were vaccines. Sanitation, nutrition, and immune system response also play a role in helping control wide spread disease. While that is all well and good the real question is, what about today's vaccinations?
Let's start at the beginning, as in the beginning of the vaccination schedule. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) 2011 immunization schedule recommends a Hepatitis B vaccine to be given at birth. But how many parents are told the benefits and risks of giving their newborn this vaccine at such an early age? How many are told how their new baby can contract this disease? Most parents are told this is what is required. There are many misconceptions about what is required as well, but we'll get to that later. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), in regards to contracting Hepatitis B, "The primary risk factors that have been associated with infection are unprotected sex with an infected partner, birth to an infected mother, unprotected sex with more than one partner, men who have sex with other men (MSM), history of other STDs, and illegal injection drug use." Based on that information, one would assume a newborn would not participate in any of these activities and the only possible way for them to contract it is if they were born to a mother who had Hepatitis B. Since women are tested for STDs during pregnancy, a mother that is infected with Hepatitis B will be aware of that fact when she gives birth. So why is the Hepatitis B vaccine recommended for and routinely given to all newborns?
We also must understand the risks involved. Again let’s use the Hepatitis B vaccine as an example. The CDC warns that "Anyone who has had a serious allergic reaction to a prior dose of Hepatitis B vaccine, a component of the Hepatitis B vaccine, or yeast should not receive Hepatitis B vaccine." This is where informed consent should be implemented but, unfortunately, doctors are not required to give it for vaccines. If Hepatitis B vaccines are routinely given to newborns, why are they not routinely check for allergies to yeast? Some would argue that it’s not cost effective and they would be right. Tell that to the mother who stayed up all night holding her two month old who had difficulty breathing because no one warned her something like this could happen or to the families of the 20 infants who died this year alone because of receiving...