Friday, February 22, 2013

Pediatricians and Policy - A Vaccine Story - Part 2 of 2

This is my experience on the journey of vaccine safety. To read more about why we've chosen to delay some vaccines and not give others, "like" me on Facebook, Christine Emmick - Freelance Writer.

Read A Vaccine Story Part 1 of 2

When we found out we were pregnant with our fourth, we were not only more prepared, we were more educated. We asked all the right questions and found a pediatrician that would honor our wishes as parents, or so we thought. We went and discussed our beliefs with two of the pediatricians prior to the birth of #4 and felt confident that we had found the group for our family.

Photo Credit: NathanF, No Endorsement Implied
The tune changed at her two month appointment. We were scheduled with a nurse practitioner who was not aware of the previous discussions with the other two doctors. When presented with the idea of selecting one vaccine instead of all four (including 7 different pathogens) she was visibly angry. Notating the previous discussions, I asked her which vaccine was the most important to get first.

Shaking with intensity, she responded, “In my opinion they are ALL important!” I was shocked and a little humored that a medical professional of her rank was so thrown by my question. She continued to assert that they were safe and if I was concerned about mercury, I needn't be. In a rush, she left the room and returned with a data sheet of how much mercury was in each shot.

After I looked at the chart for a minute, I noticed there were differences in the amount of mercury per brand. I exclaimed, “This DTaP has three TIMES more mercury than the Pediarix!” She threw her hands up and left the room, for what seemed like an eternity.

When she finally returned, I described to her a severe allergic reaction my brother had when getting the DTaP shot back in the late 70s, and then I calmly posed this question: “If we give her all four of these and she has an allergic reaction, how do we know which one caused it?”

Defeated and visibly angry, she said, “We don’t.”

She again urged me to get all of them. I was intentionally evasive because I had no intention of getting all of them that day. Since my older child was there getting some stitches removed, she asked me to send her in while I thought about it. We ended up leaving the office without any vaccines that day.

What was scarily ironic was that my daughter had only gained 2 ounces in 2 weeks and she never batted an eye at her weight. She was so upset that I was not “on board” with the shot schedule, she completely ignored a possible serious health problem.

In her effort to protect the herd immunity, she unintentionally neglected the health of her patient.

The staff never scheduled us to see her again. I'm guessing it was her choice. I would have been happy to have the conversation with her about the benefits of immunizations again. I'm guessing she was not up for the questions I would throw at her.

Despite this rocky start, we spent nearly 3 happy, well cared for years at this pediatrician’s office visiting only one doctor in the group. He listened to my concerns, and answered all of my questions in a thoughtful, kind manner. More than that, he respected my intelligence, and my decisions regarding my children’s healthcare, even if he didn't agree with all of them.

We've moved, so that beloved pediatrician is now over an hour from us. We are seeing a new one for the kid’s yearly checkups next month. I am praying that she will be as awesome as my last one. ;)

Coincidentally, or maybe not so, my oldest daughter who was the only one to receive her two month old shots on schedule, is the only one of my children who shows signs of Asperger's. I will always wonder if her life would be different had I not caved to the doctor's bullying that day.

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