I think I might piss a few people off shortly...
Little O got the results of his immunology study last week, and the news was mixed. They tested him about six weeks ago for a complete immune deficiency disease, as well as searching for antibodies to all the usual suspects that he's had vaccinations for. The most important thing they found in that first series of blood tests was that he was lacking any kind of antibodies to pneumonia and tetanus, despite the fact he'd had all his routine jabs until that point. In order to see whether this lack of antibodies was an indicator of a more serious condition, Little O had to be re-vaccinated for the pneumococcal and tetanus bugs (ouchee) and then after a month have his blood re-examined for new developments. That second study was what we had the results for last week.
They showed that his tetanus booster had been a success, but of the 11 tests they ran for pneumococcal, only four came back with a positive result. This, combined with other data, suggests he's right on the cusp of having an immune deficiency. It's kind of annoying, actually, because while it means we don't have to wrap Little O up in cotton wool and become one of those families who sanitises every Goddam surface all the live-long day, it also means we have to take a very cautious approach to caring for his health.
Let's take vaccines.
Routine vaccinations can either be replica virus cells or live versions of real viruses. In the case of children (or adults, I suppose) with immune deficiencies, it is extremely unwise to give them live virus vaccines because their little bodies wouldn't be able to fight it off, leaving them in danger of both becoming ill from the virus in the jab, and still not immune to the real thing, like measles. Children in the USA have to have two particular live vaccines in order to go to school: varicella (chicken pox), and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). If you give the MMR jab to a child with a compromised immune system, there are very few drugs available to help them if they become sick, and they are at serious risk of complications - including death.
So, let's recap: We're still not sure Little O has an official diagnosis of an immune deficiency, and live virus vaccines can be life-threatening with children who do. What do we do now?
Well, after a consultation last week, it was decided that the risks to Little O if he caught any of the four diseases mentioned (chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella) were much greater than if he were to react to the vaccines. So we went ahead and vaccinated him on Wednesday against the varicella virus. If he responds well, then after a month we can go ahead with the MMR. If, however, he reacts badly, then we don't do the MMR. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. So far though, he's been great after the varicella jab and I think he'll be fine with the MMR. This is great news and a big relief for me. I don't want him catching a horrendous bug and not being able to shake it off. It has also reminded me of the importance of vaccinations.
Now to piss a few people off:
Why WOULDN'T you vaccinate your children?? Even when your child is at risk from the vaccine itself, surely the risk to their health from a serious disease is far greater? I just don't buy into all this crap about not vaccinating children because it's all a money-making scam run by drug companies. Those parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are selfish. Selfish, not only because they believe that if every other child is vaccinated then there's no danger to THEIR kid and therefore they don't need to be stuck in the arm with a needle, but also because by exposing THEIR child to harm, they're also exposing MY child to harm!
Imagine if Little O had a very serious immune deficiency and we were strongly advised not to give him the MMR. If another healthy child caught one of those diseases, they would be exposing my child to their condition, even though my child has no say in the matter. And MY child would suffer far worse consequences because they have no immune system to fight it off. Healthy children who are not vaccinated are not only a danger to themselves, they're also a danger to every other child they come into contact with. You cannot tell by looking at a person if they are immuno-compromised, so you cannot deliberately avoid them. By avoiding vaccines, however, you are endangering their life. And that just isn't fair.
Please, please, vaccinate your children. Don't avoid it because of your own fear of needles, or the fact you think drug companies are scamming you. Don't put it off because you think if every other child is vaccinated, your child doesn't need to be. Don't; because not every other child IS vaccinated, and sometimes it's for their own safety. Please put others before yourselves, and think about the potential danger you could be exposing them to.
My Little O is lucky this time. Other babies might not be.