Thursday, September 3, 2009


My friend Casey has a nine year old daughter who is enrolled in the same school system that my kids will eventually attend. The other day, her daughter brought home a permission slip from school which, if signed, would authorize the school to vaccinate her child.

I understand that there are plenty of kids in this country who do not get adequate medical care. I get it. But I also get uncomfortable when I think of my kids getting medical care at school.

I can think of about a thousand potential scenarios in which this would be a problem. What if I send my kids to school with their immunization records in August, but take them to our family doctor to get, say, flu shots in September. The school, not knowing this, then gives everyone flu shots in October. Then my kids have gotten a double dose. I don't know that that's safe. I don't want to find out!

I also remember being pulled out of class in eighth grade (so does BJ, so this really happened, in spite of my horrible memory! That's why I write everything down now... I have CRS!) to get a shot for.... something. It was one of those air gun injections. I remember lining up, getting the shot in the cafeteria, and then feeling really dizzy and sick and unable to get up the two huge flights of stairs to return to class. I know I sat on the stairs for a while, and there were no teachers around to help me. Eventually I sucked it up and either went to the nurse or back to class. But there are a load of "what ifs" in my head - what if I'd passed out? What if I'd had a bad reaction to the shot, say an allergy or something, and no one had been there to help me?

I don't remember if my mom was aware of the fact that we would be getting shots that day, or if she signed anything. I do remember being surprised that we were getting shots that day.

I'm still a little traumatized by the scoliosis screenings that were done throughout my school years, too. It's so demeaning to have to take off your shirt and bend over so that the school nurse can examine you, particularly during puberty when your body is changing and developing at a rate that is completely different from your peers. My feeling is that if it isn't something I would want done to everyone in my office building as an adult, chances are that it's not something my kids will want to do during school.

Vision and hearing screenings are one thing - you do them completely clothed, and the outcome can have a direct affect on the quality of your school work. I have yet to figure out, though, how my having or not having scoliosis would have impacted my math grade. Further, I know loads and loads of people who wear glasses. In all my life, I have only known one person with scoliosis, and I'm fairly certain that she knew about it because her doctor checked - not because of screenings at school!

For all of the medical stuff I would rather take them to our family doctor who has been treating us since before they were born, and who I trust! I realize that I am privileged to have a family doctor and the money to take them to him with, of course, and I'm glad that there are screenings and vaccines available to kids whose families aren't so privileged... But couldn't they be done at the county health department instead of at school? After all, the schools have a hard enough time squeezing all the academics our kids need into the school year - is it necessary to remove them from class for medical screenings? Is it even ethical or safe to do so?

So, parents of older kids, talk to me about school-based medical care. Have you opted out of in-school vaccines or screenings? Have you caught flack from the school for doing so? Do you believe that in-school vaccines and scoliosis screenings and lice screenings (God help you if they find any - right there in front of everyone! I would die!) are appropriate, or are the schools usurping parental responsibilities and control? Would you allow your child to get shots in school, or do you already? Why or why not? Am I overthinking this?

Along the same vein, I've been posting on Facebook about the Swine Flu vaccine. There was a video of a guy who turned out to be a conspiracy theorist talking about thimerosol (the stuff they thought caused autism) in the Swine Flu vaccine. I also read an article that said that another potential Swine Flu Vaccine ingredient, called Squalene, might be responsible for Gulf War Syndrome. Here's a link to that article, which seems rational and reasonable. Her main point is "talk to your doctor." Below is the video, which I do not endorse, but merely post for the sake of discussion:

Again, it turns out that the "expert" in the video is kind of a nutjob. For one thing, they have NOT proven that Thimerosol causes autism, but he says that it has been proven. For another thing, check out his Wikipedia entry (thanks to my FB friend Bill for the link!).

My favorite quote so far about the Swine Flu was from my friend John, whose last name is Hogg, and who said this, in response to my question, "Are you worried about Swine Flu?" (I can't find the actual FB quote, so I'm doing this from memory - apologies to John if I misquote you!)
"If Lou Gehrig can die from Lou Gehrig's disease, you bet your a** that I'm worried about Swine flu. But I'm not half as worried as my neighbors, the Honenones!"
(Get it? H1N1s? HAHAHA! I have the funniest friends!!)

Talk to me about Swine Flu. Are you getting your kids and yourselves vaccinated? Why or why not? To be honest, I am completely on the fence. I was very unconcerned about the whole Swine Flu thing until BJ said that he wanted the kids and me to get the vaccine as a precaution (in case I become pregnant this fall/winter). Then I got worried. Because if he's worried, I am really worried. BJ doesn't tend to fall prey to the fear-mongering of the media. He takes a very reasonable, rational approach to almost everything, so if he's concerned, I'm off the rails.

On the other hand, though, if the vaccine has scary ingredients... Yikes. I just do not know. I don't know how anyone who isn't a doctor can make a good choice. The media seems to operate under the assumption that it isn't doing its job if we aren't all terrified. I don't know who to believe, aside from our doctor, and I doubt that he has an hour to debate with me about the pros and cons!

Generally, I'll just ask him if he's having his own kids vaccinated. If the answer is yes, I go along (his kids are all around the same age as ours). I did, however, refuse the Vitamin K shot and the Hep B shot at birth (my kids aren't allowed to have sex or do IV drugs until they're at LEAST 6 months old, so we didn't worry about Hepatitis B!). I'm also planning on refusing the post-birth shot of pitocin next time. They give it to you to help your uterus contract and stop bleeding. I had it with MG, but not with Claire. Well, guess which kid I had trouble breastfeeding, and which one I didn't have trouble with. I just read this article this morning which makes me suspect that the pitocin (oxytocin - same thing) was the culprit for my feeding difficulties with MG.

I wish I'd gone to medical school. It would make a lot of this a lot easier.


Sarah Victor said...

My kid's school sent home forms at the end of last year to order the flu vaccine and I for last week to sign for the H1N1 vaccine. I would hope that if the school does not have a signed form from me in their hands they wouldn't even consider injecting my child with something. I actually think it is nice that they offer it because I had a hard time last year getting my kids in for the flu shot and then our office ran out and my kids had to be late to school so we could get it at the Health Dept. However, I never sign the form for them to get it at school because I want to be with them in case they have a reaction. Plus I think grade school is a little young to go through that without mom.

I post on my FB what my pediatrician said about the H1N1 vaccine. She is not getting it herself and wasn't really sure on giving it out. So my kids will not be getting it. I was torn until I saw the look on the dr's face when I asked her. And if the situation comes up Amy- she says there is no way should would recommend it to a pregnant woman especially in their 1st trimester.

By the way- I suspect you will be fighting with the public schools in no time. They do so many things that I feel should be up to the parent. But I don't have time for the rant right now.

Also thanks for explaining Honenones to me. My sleep deprived self didn't get it when I read that last night.

Fran said...

I don't have kids, but I personally will not be getting the vaccine. I have never had a flu shot and I don't see the reason to start now.

I don't know viruses and the process of developing vaccines, but working in the pharmaceutical industry I know it usually takes years and years of development and testing before a new drug is ever brought to market. I don't know how similar this flu strain/vaccine is to what's currently out there so it worries me a little on how fast they are bringing a vaccine to the market.

I would stick to advice from your doctor/the medical community and not try to weed out the real information in the media. I would hope that your doctor would be well informed given this is such a hot topic.

Aunt Ann said...

Darling you need Valium. I have never seen anyone get so stressed about stuff. I had polio and other injections in schools and I can tell you there were not the safeguards then that there are now. We ere also checked for lice and ringworm, No one died! You are a victim of 24/7 news which has caused so much mass hysteria in this country. If you don't want your kids to get shots at school DON'T SIGN THE PERMISSION SLIP! It's that simple. Don't believe everything you hear on the news or read on the internet.

mwiesjahn said...

Honestly, my school nurse usually diagnosed me correctly the first time as compared to my doctor who usually did not.

I think giving little kids shots during school hours is going to be hell for the teachers. They are all going to cry and want to be held! Mass chaos!!!

Amy said...

Auntie Ann - does that mean you're sending some? ;)

Seriously, I have to get stressed about stuff. Otherwise le blog is le boring.

"Another day in paradise. It's sunny and 72 degrees, with a slight breeze off of the river. Mary Grace was perfect today. Claire didn't do anything wrong, in spite of the fact that she's two. We sat in the yard today, on a Battenburg lace tablecloth, eating organic strawberries that we grew in our own backyard and watching the grass grow. Could life get any better?"



The Moniak Family said...

I actually just talked with my chiropractor about the H1N1 vaccination today. Yes, he is an alternative doctor, and not a conventional medical doctor, but he seemed to have good reasons to NOT get the vaccine. He specializes in working with autistic children, and his training has lead him to believe that there is a possible link between certain vaccinations and autism. He is not the first person I've talked to that isn't crazy about the vaccine idea... I will not be getting it myself.

P.S. I am not against all vaccines. I just think we tend to over-medicate at times when it is not necessary. I'm for both traditional medical treatments AND alternative, natural treatments... both have their appropriate place!

Jen said...

Of all our similarities, we differ so much on this topic. I wish you'd have gone to med school, too...
Remember, only YOU can make choices for your own kids. But here's what we're doing in our household. I think the H1N1 shot is valuable. I don't know a huge amount about it, nor will I claim to, but quite assuredly, with TENS OF THOUSANDS of kids and adults in this country getting one this fall, we will too. If anything, it's kind of my "group hug" if you will to get this virus the hell out of our country. Enough of this, thanks for vaccinating your kid, because now mine are less vulnerable but my kids are too good for it... this needs to be a country wide effort, in my opinion.
On to something I DO know about, and that's postpartum pitocin.
Remember, you didn't have PP bleeding problems - whether or not that's due to the pitocin (a NATURALLY occurring hormone - in large quantities after birth mind you...) you'll never know. I SERIOUSLY DOUBT (despite what LLL may have told you) that a shot of pitocin had anything to do with your nursing issues with MG. What I can tell you is I've taken care of patients with severe PP bleeding, and you don't want it. It's a SERIOUS LIFE THREATENING condition - and could affect your reproductive status, at minimum, forever. I'd venture to say a little pit boost (check it's half life... I'm sure it's not 6 months...) can't be all bad. I could rant forever, but really, everything has risks. Driving your car, walking into the street to get your mail, flying in an airplane... and the list is endless. Remember we can only function on the information we have RIGHT NOW in making these decisions... wasn't it our parents who put us on the floor of the car as infants for safety? We'll all learn from history, but I think it's important to keep in mind that this PROBABLY ISN'T a huge government plot to harm American children... and that we're still here, despite floor car seats, in school vaccines, eating cat poop, and God only knows what else.
Don't keep your kids in a bubble. Trust your doctors and the CDC - and remember, just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's true... :)

morganna said...

The schools do these things (seal-coating of teeth was available in my school -- my mom opted out) because almost all children are there, a lot of parents won't take their kids to the health dept., and, in the case of disease, schools are a hotbed of transmission. Parents who can afford good medical care can opt out, and the kids who have parents who can't or won't take them to the doctor get the essential stuff anyway.

I think it's a good idea, opt out if you're not comfortable. I agree with earlier commenters -- get your info from your doctor, not the media. There's a lot of nuts out there.

Jen said...

To continue my rant... I just read Aunt Ann's post and agree completely. Don't take this the wrong way, but if all the things about cause and effect you hear are true, in every situation, shouldn't your kids be the healthiest kids on the block becaue they never got a drop of formula?
Again, don't take that the wrong way - I think you're fabulous for making the nursing decision for your kids - just something to think about...

WeaselMomma said...

I would rather the schools stay out of the medical care business too. Here they have to have a dental check-up to enter certain grades too.
It was nice to meet you at blogher and sorry it took me so long to come visit.

strwberrryjoy said...

Why are they interviewing a journalist and not a couple of doctors...Info is needed from both sides pro/con. I just got around to watching this video and had to laugh at it.

Cate said...

Yes! I remember the shot in 8th grade too, but I didn't get it because of that seizure I had in Costas the year before (which you were present at, as well, remember? My dad said you prayed with them as they were carting me away?). But because of that, I know that my parents weren't notified, because somehow it was said to me that if you have risks of seizures, not to have the vaccination. I told the nurse that I had one in the recent past, and she said, well, probably not, then, don't you think? And I shrugged my shoulders and went in the "away" line. If my parents had been notified beforehand, they would have discussed it and figured out if I was a candidate for risk or not and then told the school, and then there wouldn't have been a question.

Schools are SO into the public health model -- where everyone gets treated for everything regardless of their risk; so much funding for school comes from the public health sector of the government. It is just how our government has chosen to do school, the paradigm it subscribes to. Just knowing that helps me figure out where my school is coming from.

I don't know about vaccines -- I have had my girls vaccinated because we live in a place without running water and high incidences of sickness, but I don't like the idea of mercury and other junk in them, and I'm glad they're phasing that out. I don't get the flu shot and I was thinking, OK maybe with all this swine flu I might, but not if there is wierd junk still in it. A bunch of people in Hooper Bay have had it and we're all still walking around, so I'm not as scared as I was. I mean, I'm really glad vaccines exist, but I do think that there is leeway for folks who want to not vaccinate or slowly vaccinate to do that if they wish.

I also have worked with a lot of kids with autism, and since the reigning theory is that with the right genetic predisposition, an environmental trigger will turn autism "on" in a child, it may as well be vaccines. I believe that many children with autism are autistic long before the MMR shot, but it's just not as evident since children don't talk until around then, but that's why it's called an autistic "spectrum" -- no two kids with autism are the same -- there are a plethora of ways it manifests itself and probably lots of causes.

I do find it interesting that all the studies proclaiming vaccines' innocence have been funded by the vaccine-makers. To my knowledge, unless there's one really recently, there has not been one done by an unbiased party.

Erin said...

I remember those scoliosis (sp?) screenings in junior high & high school. I was told to sit up straight and have good posture. Okay. I forgot about that immediately until in April when I was getting prepped for the c-section and the anaesthiologist (sp?) showed me where my spine should be. It was off by at least a finger width or two. Maybe I should sit up straighter...

As far as the vaccines go, I'm going to keep my common sense wits about me and keep their charts updated and keep the school informed. I think if I take an active role in their health as well as education, they won't (or less likely wouldn't) fall through the cracks. Hope that makes sense. :)

jennifer said...

With technology being what it is today, you can find 'someone' who will be on one side of the fence or the other. I always take the approach of looking at both sides, but do feel selectively immunizing and getting those shots further apart rather then all at once is the way to go. My son is fifteen and I looked over his immunization records when he was an infant through five and he had a total of around twelve. I felt at the time getting all the neccessary vaccines was the way to go, but have since tried to read various books on this topic and feel one needs to weigh the twenty-some plus they give now with much careful consideration.
Aviva Romm has an excellent book on the vaccine debate and takes a stand that is neutral, though gives wonderful information on immune boosting alternatives before taking your kids in for their shots.
This information is from a blog called, "Age of Autism." It is sponsored by Lee Silsby compounding pharmacy. It seemed to have some interesting points; again, leaning towards my views, but nevertheless, food for thought.
I spoke with the HHS Zone 1 Director a few days ago. Here are the H1N1 vaccine details:

(1) HHS has signed a blanket protection clause for the makers of the vaccine, so citizens will have zero legal recourse, should harm or death come to any individual. The only exception is if the filing party can prove that the manufacturer is guilty of criminal intent to do harm.

(2) The H1N1 vaccine DOES contain thimerosal.

(3) The H1N1 vaccine will also contain the adjuvant squalene. Squalene was used in the anthrax vaccines which produced "Gulf War Syndrome".

The human body naturally produces squalene, which is heavily utilized by the central nervous system, as well as other body processes. When squalene is injected with an antigen, the body recognizes both the squalene and the antigen as invaders and, thus, begins to produce antibodies against both. The immune system cannot differentiate between injected and naturally-occuring squalene, so it attacks ALL squalene, thereby causing autoimmune disorders, such as MS, ALS and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Squalene also attacks male sperm production, resulting in either sterility or offspring birth defects (most frequently in the form of missing limbs, as evidenced in the offspring of Gulf War veterans.)

(4) The company, Baxter, which will be the main producer of the H1N1 vaccine, is the same company that produced the 1976 swine vaccine that killed 25 people and injured several hundred more during its trial phase. That vaccine also used squalene.

(5) H1N1 is currently no more dangerous than the usual, seasonal flu. Tamiflu is still effective against this strain. Rountine hand washing and 5,000 IUs/day of vitamin D3 are currently more effective, and vastly safer, than the untested H1N1 vaccines.

(6) The H1N1 vaccine will also contain LIVE H5N1 virus. This has some scientists worried, as they fear that those inoculated (infected with) the H5N1 virus may come into contact with someone who has not been inoculated and is infected with the H1N1 virus, thereby creating a hybrid for which there exists no vaccine, and which can infect the inoculated. This is similar to what occured during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which was the product of the scientific community's efforts to fight lesser viruses with a myriad of vaccines in combination. Thus, unecessary inoculation with live H5N1 virus is not only unecessary, it is biologically dangerous, for both the inoculated and the unvaccinated.

Posted by: Carolyn Foley | August 16, 2009 at 08:24 PM

Coretta said...

I wanted to comment mainly on the school screenings. My oldest son, who is now 20, grew up in the public school system, with all the typical screenings. Including hearing and vision. I never made an eye appointment for him because the yearly vision test they did at school said his eyesight was fine. He always struggled in school, and I'm ashamed to say I just thought he was stubborn and lazy. It took my mother making an eye appt for him when he was 13 to figure out he was nearly legally blind in one eye and wasn't much better in the other. This wasn't something that happened overnight, or even over a year. The optometrist said he probably had poor eyesight from the start. I felt awful, for not catching this. I know that the school screening certainly didn't help, it actually made things worse. If I had not been given a false sense of security I would have had him checked out sooner and he would have gotten glasses in kindergarten rather than 8th grade. Who knows how much better his school career would have gone? How effective can a screening be when done in assembly line fashion??

As for flu shots... I have 8 children still living at home aged 15 down to 2 and none of us are getting anywhere near that flu shot. Not a chance.