When my first son was born over six years ago, I blindly followed the vaccination schedule provided by my pediatrician. While I wondered why a baby needed so many shots at one time for some diseases that has been eradicated in the United States, I didn’t question the schedule. I didn’t do any extra research other than read the pamphlets on each vaccine that my doctor gave us at one of the well-baby check-ups. And so Darius was stuck multiple times with multi-combination vaccines at 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 months. Every time, I pondered to myself why so many shots at once. But every time, I held down my son’s chubby thigh and whispered that it would all be okay and cuddled with him afterwards with praise being a brave boy.
Then The Vaccine Book was published. By then, my son was three years old and we were practically out of the dark. I received a review copy of book and read most of it before passing it off to a girlfriend who was pregnant with her first child. “If you read any book, this should be the one you read,” I told her. I had wished it came out earlier. I had more information than I ever thought I needed to know about each vaccine, but deconstructed in a way that made the information digestible. I instantly regretted not doing the research the first time around and placing my son on a slower schedule.
When I got pregnant with my second son last year, I knew that I would follow a slower, alternative schedule for vaccinating my son. And I began to prepare for the flack I’d get from my pediatrician for breaking the standard schedule.
Slow Vax doesn’t eliminate any vaccines. It merely slows down the vaccination schedule. Instead of getting 6-7 vaccines at one time, you get 2-3 (depending on if the combination shots can be given individually). Less shots means that it is easier for you to determine which shot was the culprit if your baby has severe negative reaction. It also rearranges the schedule so that the most important shots are given first and the ones that are less likely to infect a newborn (like Hep B or Polio) are delayed until you baby is older.
Slow Vax also means more doctor visits. And more shots. When my two month old received his first shots this week, he would have received only 3 shots if we had gone the combination shots provided. Three shots that made up seven vaccinations. Instead, he received two shots that made up four vaccinations. Of the other three, two will be given in another month (between his well baby office visits) and one will be delayed until he is over a year or before we put him into daycare. My second son will still end up getting all of his vaccinations, just as his older brother did. We are merely slowing it down.
I never believed that vaccines caused autism. And now with the one and only study that linked them has been ousted as total fraud, perhaps the door will be closed on the controversial debate. For me, it’s not about preventing autism; it’s about protecting my son. Since he had his first shots two days ago, he’d been nothing but cranky with a swollen thigh and a low fever. Normal? Absolutely. But now I know which ones caused the fever. Doesn’t it mean that he won’t get another fever in another month when we return for more? Probably not. But I feel better about the pace of our schedule. I’m sure that there are no negative effects of giving him fewer shots at one time. More importantly, I feel like I’m in more control of his care. Perhaps he’ll hate me for making him get stuck more times. But I’m guessing he won’t remember and he’ll be a shot-champ just like his older bro. One thing is for sure, I will always be there to whisper that it will all be okay and cuddle with him afterwards with praise being a brave boy.