Neither my husband, nor I, are against vaccines. We understand both the public and personal importance of vaccines. Herd immunity protects those people, like my father who has CLL leukemia, whose immune systems are compromised, from diseases that could very potentially be deadly such as whooping cough, mumps, measles, rotovirus and even the flu. The vaccines also protect my son from these diseases, which otherwise infected large portions of the population before the vaccines were discovered. That being said, we've also chosen to not get all the vaccines at one time. We have traditionally separated them by about 10 days, giving no more than 2 vaccines at a time. This schedule was not chosen because we believe that vaccines cause Autism or food allergies, but simply because we were worried about the fevers and reactions of vaccines. We felt giving them in fewer doses over a month, or two, would potentially reduce the severity of vaccine reactions and if my son did have a reaction, we would know which vaccine most likely caused it. We discussed our plan with our pediatrician and although he did his best to warn us that we probably wouldn't be able to keep up on our chosen schedule, went along with our plan.
My child may be just a number in herd immunity, to my doctor, to the nurse and to the medical community, but he is my only son. I'm not against vaccines, but I must insist that when they are given, that ALL warning are followed.
At our son's one year appointment in July, he received the MMR vaccine, which is a live virus vaccine. I went to make the appointment for the Varicella for the following week and was flatly told that I was not allowed to give my son another vaccine for 30 days after the MMR. I asked why and they said that they were not allowed to give another vaccine within 30 days of the MMR, as it was contraindicated. I asked if that was the case, why had the recommended the MMR, Varicella, HIB and Hep A be given all at the same time? They explained that the body was able to fight and create a response to all the vaccines at one time, but wouldn't react the same in 10 days as the immune system might be weakened. I wasn't convinced that this was the case so decided to completed spread out his one year shots. Therefore, at one year, we followed the warnings and spread out his one year shots over 2.5 months, ensuring there were no reactions.
For 16 months, we have followed all warnings and worked with the doctor to ensure we are following all contraindications and with each vaccine our son had not run a fever over 100 degrees and although might be slightly grumpy for one day, never seemed to have any true adverse affects to a vaccine. At 16 months, though, this all changed.
I took my son in to get the last of the 15 month shots, which was the PREVNAR and I was told that he needed the second dose of his flu shot to ensure he was protected. I thought, stupidly, that the nursing staff knowing me and my history, would never recommend something that wasn't indicated to be given together, especially since I have always brought my son back to ensure that he is always up-to-date on his shots and they are given with the 90-day window for compliance, so I agreed.
Now, normally, before any shot is given, I am provided the information sheet on the vaccine so that I am able to ask any questions. This time though, the float nurse, walked out of the room with the sheets and I wasn't able to review them before the shot. I did not think much about it, as my son was crying and fussy as he has already figured out he is getting a shot and I'm trying to calm him down. Well, she comes back in and gives him both the PREVNAR and the flu shot, with slow and shaking hands, puts on a superman band-aid and then finally, hands me the information sheets. I throw them into my purse, pick up and comfort my now sobbing son and leave the office.
That night, we noticed he just seemed more tired and not feeling the best, but we assumed that it was due to the fact that he had run and played for 10 hours at daycare and maybe he hadn't napped as well that day. So, we put him to bed around 8PM and then I tossed the information sheets on the kitchen counter and went to bed myself. The next morning, when we went into the nursery to wake up my son, we immediately knew something was wrong. He was radiating heat and just kept rolling back over to sleep.
He had never had a vaccine reaction like that before. He has never even run a fever that high. We were worried and wondered what could have changed from the other times. Immediately, had read the information sheets and on the front cover, in bold, of the PREVNAR vaccine it states "WARNING: When given with the flu shot can cause high fevers and febrile seizures". He was currently running a fever of about 100 degrees and now we worried that it might get even higher, with possible seizures!
We tried to get him to drink some water but he wasn't having it and then we had to go to work. Luckily, I have a great home daycare lady who promised to call me if he seemed to be getting worse and that day, with a fever running consistently between 100 and 101, he slept and barely ate. In fact, he only got out of his crib to eat a light lunch and then went back to sleep. My active and happy and outgoing child slept for 16+ hours that day and just wanted to be left alone. That night, he just wanted to be snuggled and his fever crept ever higher, finally stopping at around 103.4 degrees. This was after he had been given ibuprofen every 4 hours. We snuggled and did ice packs. He finally passed out on the floor wrapped in his blanket, soaked with sweat, shivering while I rubbed his tummy and back to give him comfort. This went on for another 2 days, until finally, 4 days later, yesterday, his fever finally broke and he started smiling again.
If anyone had read the information sheet that gave the parents, they would have known that recommending a combination of shots that was known to cause high fevers and seizures was not indicated to be given together. I felt that they were more worried about ensuring that he was fully vaccinated, with even the optional shot, that worrying about his overall health and how he might react. My child may be just a number in herd immunity, to my doctor, to the nurse and to the medical community, but he is my only son. I'm not against vaccines, but I must insist that when they are given, that ALL warning are followed.