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.
As I say to each their own. If you felt like it was better for your health to not vaccinate while pregnant then more power to you. I honestly cannot remember what I did while I was pregnant because it was quite a while ago. If I was worried about something I definitely would not do it.
I’m fully pro vaccinations, I think they’re important and that so many diseases are coming back because people aren’t getting their children vaccinated. It’s not just your own kid that is affected, it’s everyone. But, I can fully understand spacing them out a little better and not dumping everything on them.
When I was pregnant I couldn’t get the TDAP, I’m allergic to it, so we didn’t want to risk it. When it came time to get my baby vaccinated we did all but that (since both myself and my father are allergic, I worried it could be a genetic allergy). Before having baby vaccinated I did check with my doctor about what they’d be vaccinating and that they didn’t use the big one with all the mercury in it. Most doctors don’t now days anyway… We’re taking her in for her TDAP next month, but we’re going to do it in office and wait for an hour after to make sure there are no responses.
This was a very interesting read. I think there are so many sides to healthcare and the best way to go about it, that it’s quite a mess when certain issues arise. Not that pregnancy is an issues, I mean when things coincide.
Sarah Bailey says
It is good to know you did your research before coming to the decision you did. To many people don’t and that’s where my issues lie mostly.
I agree mostly. I delayed vaxing with my first and my child’s doctor was supportive to a point. I did the same delay schedule with my second baby, but had a lot of trouble getting him into preschool even with a waiver during a season of whooping cough in the town we lived in and 3 cases at that particular preschool in a town where people opted not to vax more than vax. Basically, the cocoon around my kid had disappeared. So I had to vax to enroll him. Also, my husband was forced to get the flu shot each year because he worked at a hospital. If he didn’t get it, his job was on the line. I’m glad I wasn’t pregnant working at a hospital because like you, I would have waited.
Jennifer Van Huss says
Very interesting article! I am prochoice. There are many different reasons to vaccinate or not vaccinate and it is based on personal choice and religious reasons. I like many of the points you bring up and I agree with you that being pregnant is the most fabulous feeling ever!
Dana Peller says
This is such a sensitive topic to discuss, but I’m glad you shared your point of view. I think a lot of moms are opting out of vaccinations during pregnancy because of the risks.
Karissa @WithOurBest says
I think that nobody should ever judge another person on their personal decisions. We all have our own opinions on things, so you should never feel bad about any of yours! Keep on posting!
Joely Smith says
I could write a book on this but I will keep it short.
My son literally almost died due to DPT – not once but twice.
That was 24 years ago.
Back then they had no idea what happened to him or why.
They do now know it was the Pertussis part of the vaccine.
Now days you can get the DT – eliminating the P.
When my daughter was born – 2 months preemie – I did not have her vaccinated because I knew it was some vaccine that caused my sons near deaths.
Her being preemie there was no way I was going to risk having her vaccinated!
I am glad that I did not do it since back then we did not know what we do now.
With that said I still do not know if I would vaccinate or not as there are pros and cons.
So glad they figured out the issues with Pertussis but there are still so many issues remaining!
Scary grounds and I am glad I never have to face them again!
This is one of those subjects that I just won’t discuss with others. It’s way too controversial. I think everyone should do what is best for them, once they’ve done their research.
Up Run for Life Healthy Lifestyle Blog says
I have never been against vaccines until it came to getting my kids the gardasil vaccine. My sisters (twins) got the shot and a year ir so afterwards they ended up having neurological issues (seizures). So when the drs asked me, I politely told them no.
My kids didn’t get a flu shot this year. I did since I have an autoimmune disorder and it makes treatment more limited. The flu was still going strong two weeks ago.
Definitely to each their own. I work in healthcare and have seen firsthand what happens when people die of the flu and other preventable diseases that’s just not a risk I’m willing to take. I am very pro-vaccine and that’s also my choice! Good for you for standing up for what you believe in.
Melissa Dixon says
I have always been wary about vaccines and never get flu shots due to that worry. I can totally understand where you are coming from on this one.
Paula Schuck says
I couldn’t disagree with you more on this topic. I am pro vaccinations and pro science. Vaccines are incredibly important and I believe everyone has a responsibility to get vaccinated to protect others. Seniors, infants and people with chronic diseases and cancer are the ones who die when a disease gets a foothold somewhere, often due to people who opted out of vaccines. I travelled with a group of journalists in Zambia in 2016 and we told stories of families impacted by access to vaccines there. It was eye opening that people who have less accessible health care often value these proven scientific tools over a lifetime. Amazing that women who had to walk 8 hours in 40 C degree weather where very real threats of animals and dehydration were constant would do that to get their families protected. An 8 hour walk to a clinic to get a vaccine and they did it on their own often without support of a partner.
I did my research when my children were small and I got them vaccinated. We get all the vaccines available to us every year necessary, because vaccines save lives. Even the flu vaccine saves lives. I have an autoimmune disorder and am vaccinated with flu shot every year and take that very seriously. Too many people die from preventable causes and preventable diseases hit the weakest members of society first always.
Straight from the CDC web site – > “Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines do not and never did contain thimerosal. Varicella (chickenpox), inactivated polio (IPV), and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have also never contained thimerosal.
Vaccines save 2.5 million children from vaccine preventable diseases every year. Globally 1.5 million children still die every year from vaccine preventable deaths.
It is your personal choice to not get vaccinated and I respect you for that. I am pro-vaccinations and I got vaccinated when I was pregnant, but that was years ago so I can’t remember which vaccine/s was it. And my son has completed all his vaccinations since he was a baby.
Amy D says
I typically don’t get the flu vaccine and I didn’t get it when I was pregnant either. I did have to get a shot because my blood type can sometimes reject the baby if the blood types don’t match. It’s just a precaution but both of my girls were born with my blood type.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. We have vaccinated in the past – and I’m not having any more… But I will say I have not gotten the Flu vaccine ever – nor have my kids.
Victoria Heckstall says
It’s our personal choice to have a vaccine while pregnant. I have a full vaccine and I think it’s not damage our immune system.
Shannon Gurnee says
This is a really sensitive topic to discuss and there are a lot of opinions out there. I am pro vaccinations, but also have friends who aren’t. It’s a tough thing to share about.
I on’t have kids yet so I don’t really have many opinions on this but I am sure that will change whenever I do get pregnant.