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To vaccinate or not to vaccinate: Research the answers!

Posted: Babies & Toddlers » Vaccinations | August 29th, 2005



By Christine Climer

August is the perfect time of year for National Immunization Awareness Month: Parents are enrolling younger children in school, college students are getting ready for a new semester and health care providers are starting to plan ahead for flu season.

Opinions about vaccination range from one extreme to the other, with all sides being very vocal this month about their own perspective on vaccination risks and benefits. Not all the second-hand information out there is accurate, so take the time to research the vaccination issues for yourself and come to your own conclusions. With health research tools in hand, use this guide to locate the facts you need to make informed decisions for your family.

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The nature of the illness

Perhaps the first thing you should consider is the nature of the given illness — risk factors for contracting the disease, what it actually does to your body, how the germs work, how doctors diagnose it, what treatment is available, what the complications are and how often they occur, disease incidence and mortality rates.

Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy (on Amazon.com or on Powells.com)
Merck Manual of Medical Information Home Edition (on Amazon.com or on Powells.com)
• Wong’s Nursing Care of Infants and Children (on Amazon.com or on Powells.com)
• Microbiology: An Introduction (on Amazon.com or on Powells.com)
Medical Microbiology
University of Maryland Medical Center – Complementary Medicine Program
Public Health Image Library
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (searchable for vaccination recommendations, outbreak reports and disease statistics)
Vaccination coverage rates (PDF)
Cases and deaths for selected diseases (PDF)
State and local health departments

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The vaccines themselves

The next thing to consider is the vaccine specifics — recommended schedules and how the ingredients affect your body, including potential adverse reactions. Understand how injury is compensated and how to report adverse reactions.

Recommended schedules
Prescribing information (inserts) for U.S. vaccines
Pharmaceutical industry links
Contraindications and precautions (PDF)
Ingredients used in the manufacture of vaccines (PDF)
Mercury calculator
• Toxicology information – University of Iowa, Hardin Library for Health Sciences and ATSDR
• Autism issues – thimerosal and MMR
Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
Reporting adverse reactions
VAERS database
Primary research publications at PubMed

Laws and regulations

Also important to consider in making your decision are the laws and regulations that apply to you and your family. Make sure you understand how vaccination policy is handled and how vaccines are regulated as well.

• Selected state programs and health departments
Exemption information
State codes and statutes
National Vaccine Advisory Committee
Vaccine licensure and regulation

Specialized information

If you live outside of the United States, if you are planning to travel internationally or if you are a member of the military, other information may apply to you in addition to or instead of what is discussed above.

International travel recommendations and requirements
Military information
International vaccination programs and information

Vaccination orientation

If you are new to researching vaccination, you may find it helpful to familiarize yourself with the issues by reading some “overview” books. Here are a few to get you started:

• What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About™ Children’s Vaccination (on Amazon.com or on Powells.com)
• Vaccination: The Issue of Our Times (on Amazon.com)
• Vaccines: What You Should Know (on Amazon.com or on Powells.com)
• Immunizations and Infectious Diseases: An Informed Parent’s Guide (on Amazon.com or on Powells.com)

Vaccination research isn’t hard if you have the right tools and know where to look for reliable facts, but it is a time-consuming project. Take it slowly, one step at a time, and don’t be afraid to seek help or ask questions. Consider all sides of the issues and then decide for yourself what works best for your family.

© Christine Climer

Christine Climer is a registered nurse with experience in pulmonary disease, pediatrics, home health and hospice services. Also trained in early childhood education, she specializes in the promotion of early childhood health. She lives with her husband and three children (including a set of twins) in Texas and enjoys researching health issues and gardening.

One Response to “To vaccinate or not to vaccinate: Research the answers!”

1 Lisa Poisso says:

Don’t leave this important decision up to influence and hearsay — this article gives you the tools to make your own decisions with knowledge and confidence. Take the time to do the research.

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