For the average pregnant woman, there’s no decision about vaccinations. Most women are fully vaccinated by the time the thought of pregnancy enters their mind. Either their parents made the decision to vaccinate them, or they did not think much of getting vaccinations until they became pregnant and had to make the decision for their own children.
Mind Shift in How I Feel
When I had Evan I was all for vaccinations. I was vaccinated as I child and turned out “perfectly fine” is what I would argue. Fast forward 5.5 years when I was older and more informed, I was surprised at how naive I was. I am not against vaccinations but I am against pumping your unborn and newborn children full of them so quickly.
This third time around, my doctor knows how I roll and of course, she always offers and I always politely decline. There is no argument, demeaning chat, nothing along those lines. She knows it’s my choice and understands my reasoning for not vaccinating while pregnant.
Why not Vaccinate?
First, immunizations damage your immune system. A study conducted at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center showed that the flu shot weakens your immune response over time. Given the demands on your body during pregnancy, this is not the time to be weakening your immune system more. Further, you are passing on that onto your baby as we know that vaccinations can pass through the placenta.
Next, while mercury in the form of thimerosal was removed from most pediatric vaccines by 2003, it may still be present in adult doses of vaccinations. The government tells us that we should avoid fish because of mercury concerns; shouldn’t mercury-containing vaccines have the same warning? Exposure to even small amounts of mercury can inhibit baby’s brain growth. That one seemed like a no-brainer to me!
What about the Flu Vaccine?
Every time I turn on the news, I hear reports about the severity of this year’s flu season. This year’s dominant variant, H3N2, was the same strain that hit Australia during their flu season in 2017. Despite knowing the strain that hit Australia, this year’s flu shot did not offer any protection against H2N2. Given that even pediatric doses of the flu shot still contain mercury, why should I be vaccinated against the flu while pregnant, if the likelihood is that it will not even be effective? I am not willing to risk it, sorry.
And the Tdap?
Many pregnant women are scared into getting the Tdap because of scare tactics involving pertussis. Want to know something crazy? I don’t have my shot record to prove my vaccinations as a child so I had to have my blood titers drawn to show I’ve been vaccinated when I started working the children’s hospital. Mind you, I received the pertussis vaccination when I was an infant. When I got my results, my levels were above and beyond what I needed to be covered. That means getting a Tdap booster would be ridiculous.
For vaccinations such as Tdap, there’s just not enough research to convince me that vaccines during pregnancy are safe. While government recommendations state that pregnant women should be given the Tdap vaccine, the truth is, not enough testing has been done. When you look at the information provided about side effects, some of the adverse reactions may be from the virus itself, but some may be from the ingredients within the vaccination. There just is not enough information to say for sure.
Not Vaccinating While Pregnant
I love being pregnant. Feeling the baby move, knowing that my body is growing another little human. While most women are more than ready as they approach the full term mark, I tend to wish I could make the pregnancy last a little longer. That intense bond will never be broken, but it will change from the moment my baby is born, and I treasure each second of pregnancy that I have.
All in all, the decision about whether or not to vaccinate during pregnancy is a personal one. For me, the benefits of not vaccinating while pregnant outweigh any possible risks. I am not willing to risk my health, or my baby’s life, on a bunch of maybes.